"DON'T TRY TO BE THE BEST, BUT TRY TO BE THE BEST WITHIN YOUR RANGE OF POSSIBILITIES AND WITHIN YOUR OWN DEVELOPMENT."
Francien Krieg (born in 1973) is a Dutch artist and an art teacher. Born in The Hague, but grew up in a small town called Alphen a/d Rijn where she experienced mostly very narrowminded people and she was very much teased during her whole childhood while attending school. Drawing was something she always enjoyed and was good at. She dropped out of high school because she could not handle the teasing anymore and she started working in a clothing shop. She had time to think about what she wanted in life; she wanted to go to art school. Hence, she went back to high school, obtained her diploma and went after her dream. At the Royal Art Academy in The Hague, she met people who had the same experience as her during childhood, that of being an outsider. Finally, Francien Krieg felt like she was home- she graduated in 1998, obtaining a degree in Monumental Art.
Francien’s Work was picked up by art collectors and art galleries. It became part of important Dutch art collections like the ING Collection and the former Scheringa Collection. One of the better galleries in The Netherlands, Gallery Mokum in Amsterdam, picked up on the quality of her work and initiated a cooperation.
Francien’s career development brought her works to be shown at exhibitions like the art fair Scope Basel, the art fair Realisme Amsterdam, Robert Lange Studios in Charleston USA, From motion to Stillness at Zhou B Art Center in Chicago, Women Painting Women in Townsend Atelier, Chattanooga, US, [r]evolution Tennessee, US and recently the exhibition Stark Realism at Beinart Gallery in Brunswick, Australia, featuring Effie Pryer and Ville Lopponen. In 2017, she was nominated for the Dutch Portrait Award and short-listed for the Figurativas 2017 and 2019 at MEAM in Barcelona where she also recently was part of the international exhibition called: Pintado hoy.
Additionally, her work was published in the Austrian art magazine Milionart Kaleidoscope featuring a three-page article. Also, recently her work was in the family issue of Poets and Artists, curated by Shana Levenson and David Kassan. In the summer of 2019, she was an artist in residence in New Foundland Canada, at the Pouch Cove Foundation. She recently published her first art book about the series of the aging female body which she painted for 10 years. The book can be purchased in the webshop through her website.
It is true that beauty is subjective. But it is also true that many times we need someone to practically grab our hands and show us another way of seeing or considering what is really beautiful. And in this, Francien is an expert. With her art she is able to open more than your eyes, she touches your heart and shows you the definition of life in the blink of an eye. It's that simple, that easy. Her art reveals a soft and penetrating story of what it is to be a human being. And you realize, how really beautiful it is to be able to live and experience life in what we call a body.
Q. What role does the artist have in society?
A. To let people step out of their daily routine of regular thoughts and feelings and experience something that cannot be expressed in words or monetary.
Q. What’s your best childhood memory?
A. Our holidays going to the coast with our boat, we went for 4 to 5 weeks and the travel itself to get there took days and always something exciting happened. I made nice friends on the islands where we played with our boat, campfires, first kisses, first breakups…sweet memories.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. I remember a drawing I made of Pierot and I got so many compliments that it motivated me to continue.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. When I discovered that drawing and painting became something really important for me and decided I wanted to go to art school. But it was only after art school I really got into it. During art school I was still too much enjoying being young, going out, drinking too much and I did not make the best effort in that period. When I was more of an adult, around my 30s, I got more serious and addicted to painting.
Q. Tell us about some of the highlights of your artistic career, such us memorable shows or publications?
A. In 2010 I organized together with a group of Dutch artists a wonderful show in a church in the Netherlands called the Bergkerk. It took us 1 year to prepare to show and find sponsors and people to work with us to change the interieur of the church into an artspace, but it was so much worth it and it was a great success! We are thinking to organize this again. Another wonderful show was a recent one at the MEAM on international womens day, I met so many artists who I admire and we get treated like rockstars or celebrities, never experienced it like this before! It was such an honour! Through my connection with Didi Menedez from Poets and artists, I got so many wonderful opportunities to be in publications and shows the last 10 years. Another publication I really enjoyed working on was for the Artistsonart online magazine, Cherie Haas was wonderful to work with, she now started working on Realisme now a new platform which is wonderful too.
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it?
A. I always was interested in painting the human... through my search of what I wanted to say with my work, I first painted myself because the body itself is truly a bizarre object which I don’t understand and felt very disconnected to it. Those years I painted my body for the most, extreme angles so you almost did not recognize the body as a body anymore. Later I wanted to tell something about the diversity of bodies and people and how we are all beautiful and also bizarre beings. I was paintings obese ladies, drag queens, boyish girls, albino, etc. Then suddenly, an old lady wanted to pose for me, since then I was grabbed by this subject and wanted to paint every spot and wrinkle I saw, I loved painting the skin, I was painting this subject for 10 years and published a book about it. This series is still going on right now.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. I want to show people with great empathy, by showing the aging women I want to talk with my audience about the aging process and the fear of dying. Also, in the media, you mostly see young women and I wanted to show another side of what also can be considered beautiful.
Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
A. I am an open book and sometimes I am too direct or too open, not everybody likes this, so I am working on that.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. Sometimes my family gets less attention from me, this puts pressure on me sometimes of feeling guilty...But I need to make my hours to become a better painter.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. During art school Kiki Smith inspired me, Berlinde de Bruykere, and a few more. But when I started painting on the free academy after I graduated from art school monumental direction, I was influenced by the other painters who were working around me in the space we were sharing. I learned a lot there. Now lately, I get inspired every day but so many different artists with the enormous amount of art you can find on Instagram, it is sometimes overwhelming and not always good for the self-esteem.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. You can call it lonely; I don’t feel like that at all. I like to work alone. But I am also human and I do enjoy contact with other people. I have a loving family of a husband and 2 adorable children so that helps a lot. Also, through social media, I made some nice friendships where I actually met some of them physically.
Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing?
A. Spending time with my family going to flea markets, preferably every weekend!
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. The only way to make good art is to make art from your heart.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. Success means that I am able to touch people’s heart with my work and really make an impact on people, that is so amazing when that happens!
Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A. Don’t pretend to be someone else. Believe that you can achieve what you want but mostly enjoy the ride along the way.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. Probably the best advice I got from Jan van der Kooi. He said to disappear and go off the radar from social media and work in all quietness on a new body of work without any influence from the outside. I still have to follow that advice and I am planning on doing that next year.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. Don’t try to be the best but try to be the best within your range of possibilities and within your own development, also be proud of yourself now and then.