– An interview with Krzystof Siatka, the Phoenix’s Throne.
Basil Colin Frank is deeply interested in revealing things which are imperceptible at first sight. Concretized processes taking place in the micro and macro world have particular influence on his works, which are usually created in mixed media. According to the artist, who expresses himself with the same easy manner in the art of installation, sculpture, painting, photography and digital graphics, such an artistic strategy can best reveal limits, divisions and not always clear tensions of the surrounding us reality that appear in them. One cannot but link this method with the biography of the artist, who during his interesting life has lived in many nooks of the globe remote from one another. The map of this roaming included Cape Town in South Africa, London and now Jerusalem – the place where problems of today’s world pile up considerably. In spite of being imbued with multicultural civilisation, Frank creates works as if from another reality – full of lyrical magic and indefiniteness, in which one can find a tone of concern about the form of man.
The artist presented his exhibition entitled Phoenix’s Throne in Cracow at the International Print Triennial 2006. During the vernissage he answered several questions.
Krzysztof Siatka: Did your life somehow change after you received the prize at the International Print Triennial-Cracow 2003? Did this fact have any influence on the development of your artistic activity?
Basil Colin Frank: At the beginning I would like to express my gratitude for receiving this prize, which was and is an incredible compliment for me. Winning in the competition with so many great artists from all over the world has made me feel proud up till now. This honour definitely strengthened my position on the art market, for Triennale and before it Biennale are known and valued in the whole artistic world. The possibility of presentation of my works before the Polish audience strengthens my wonderful feelings. I am also happy that the information on human form that I want to impart can reach more and more recipients.
In your artistic expression you use many techniques, starting from sculpture, through drawing, photography and finishing at multimedia projections. How do you match the medium with the message that you want to convey?
It is a very difficult question. It is true that I began my search in the domain of sculpture and at the beginning of the 90s I ended up with graphic techniques and photography, with which I recorded scenes from the life which surrounded me. More modern techniques, the apogee of which are of course the latest multimedia techniques, let the artist reach a bigger group of recipients and sometimes even the masses. Such possibilities are always fascinating for me, nevertheless I often come back to traditional methods of an artist’s work – for example I paint. Now I am dealing with many projects, which are revealed in many works created in various
techniques. A good example is Phoenix’s Throne presented in the exhibition in Cracow, which consists of a DVD film and graphics made in the technique of digital printing. I like expressing myself in many media, my message can become full then.
Your art tells about problems of the contemporary world, conflicts, war, death and other human tragedies. However, formally it is often close to abstraction, because of which the message is not always clear. Why did you choose such a form to convey difficult issues?
I would like at all costs to avoid the method which was assumed by social realism – the art of the USSR, of the realism addressed to the mass recipient in western countries. It does not seem to me that I have to be well understood by everybody and I definitely will not simplify my language only for that reason.
You studied in London under Sir Anthony Caro, one of the greatest artists of the second half of the 20th century. Did his personality and creative activity affect your further artistic actions?
Yes, it is true. I took a liking to the form of Caro’s objects, perhaps I even got inspired by it in those times. He broadened my awareness concerning a modern way of understanding sculpture. He created the language of expression which is worth absorbing. I think that his works have preserved considerable freshness until the present day and can be analysed in the context of current art. However, Caro was one of the artists that fascinated me. At this opportunity I would also like to underline my connection and admiration for many Polish artists. Since the early 70s I have had the privilege of becoming familiar with artistic works of several distinguished artists,