Frank Van Valderen started making art about 7 years ago. After realizing that he had that urge to create something he decided to study art and applied to Fontys Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Tilburg. After studying there for two years, he decided that he didn’t want to be a teacher but wanted to keep making art. He left his studies but stayed in Tilburg. He did an exposition in a gallery in Tilburg, which helped him in the following years; after the exposition, he again applied to study art but this time in Academie Beeldende Kunsten in Maastricht. He got accepted to the academy and started as a second year student.
When Frank started at the Academy, he was already painting: usually with black paint and crayons and by using the canvas/wallpaper (yes, he was using it as painting surface) as another colour: using another colour or too many colours has always been a challenge for him. But rather than using colors he experimented with other objects such as metal nails, screw and air pipe pieces etc.; by combining the three dimensional objects with paint on two dimensional surfaces he started to build up his style, “symbolism.” He thinks that every artist should have her/his own symbolism; referring to the “symbols” and objects which are used by the artists, in order to tell a story.
Before and during his studies he was influenced by numerous artists. He changed his mind later on but when he first got into the academy, he wanted to be a comic artist/writer. Olivier Ledroit, Rosinski and Kevin Walker were some great ‘masters’ for him.
In the academy, he was introduced to new mediums and materials; his main focus on painting started to shift to sound art and installation. He also regarded David Lynch, Raisin Murphy, Bork, Thom Yorke, Aphex Twin, Venetian Snares etc. as some of his influences in music and compositions.
When he sees something, or watches a video or movie he usually “get[s] moved by the sound and the symbols that the artists use”. According to him, “compositional elements, the way in which the artist uses colors and the sound to build up the mood are the essential points in order to read the artwork and grasp the meaning of it.” This becomes immediately clear when you experience one of his works; he has his own keywords and symbolism and uses them believingly.
Life and Death: All in Unison
Frank’s motivation is the fascination he has for nature, animals, space and time and there are other important keywords that you can read from his works like: life/death, loneliness, noise, beauty, beast, beauty in the beast and contrast/mutualism. Also, I think one of the most important key words of Frank’s works is “muchness” or “density”. You can read the other keywords through the latter; density of the feeling, density of the visuals –there are may be a very little of them in the sense of quantity, but the effect they have is powerful- density of the masses, the sound.
He has his own symbols/symbolism to express what he thinks/feels for the two major keywords: Life and Death. To express “life” in a work, he uses trees (well, he doesn’t use them, he actually “makes” his own trees); movement; animals; grass; water; the Moon. To express “death” he uses clay; sand; dried soil; rocks; the color black. He uses these elements together in his installations with sound to depict a feeling/mood, a fascination: it is a fascination for the order we live in, a fascination for the “great composition” called life.
In his installations, like in real life, things or binary oppositions such as life/death, black/white etc. can exist in the same environment. Interpreting the two polar opposites together is what makes the works quite interesting and inclusive. As for the sound, it feels like it alternates between noise and environmental sound -and in my personal opinion, the sound he uses is another manifestation of this ‘togetherness of the contraries” in the audio level.
There is something very “primitive’ about Frank’s installations; states or conditions which were not established by “good” or modernized materials. But this primitiveness adds to the concepts: because Frank is visualizing the most essential, probably the only question about existence, this roughness he has, adds a brutal and a purity to the question. It is a question of the essential, the fundamental, the question that needs to be asked and shouldn’t be asked, is black and white, available/lacking.
The Moon is his most recent piece and also graduation project. When asked, he would probably tell you that, the Moon itself is the biggest and liveliest thing he has ever seen. Walking into a dark room with a deep-seated sound which engulfs you entirely, and seeing the moon hanging in contented silence along with hand-crafted black asteroids, will have you captured, and you will witness the admiration and fascination he has for it.
It is, a Cycle
What should we feel when we look at Frank’s work? Should we feel anything? Or is it just a concretization of blankness and the eternity at the same time?
It is a feeling that wraps you up but at the same time, a depiction of being alone; standing still on bare feet in a room with green marbled floor, flickering fluorescent light and whose walls cannot be seen. And the disturbance, the tranquility of not knowing what it is…