American visual artist, Jan Frank was born in Amsterdam in 1951 to Dutch parents and lived in the Congo for the first few years of his life. His family immigrated to the United Stated when he was six, landing first in Detroit before finally settling in Wisconsin. After attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he moved to New York to participate in the Whitney’s Independent Study Program, studying under Ron Clark, Vito Acconci, and Yvonne Rainer.
While Jan Frank’s gestures may formally recall an expressionist aesthetic, his nuanced process depends heavily on the tenets of postmodern thought, embracing strategies of appropriation, citation, trace, and erasure. Through the use of lines and motifs taken directly from earlier paintings, both his own work and that of a handful of iconic artists – Phillip Guston, Jackson Pollock and his favorite, Willem de Kooning, he creates prints that distinctly his own. He screen-prints them onto blank canvases, but does so in patchy, overlapping fragments, playfully wielding the squeegee as if it were a brush rather than a tool for distributing paint evenly. He repeats the process as many as five times, creating a base layer of dense gestures and references. Atop that he paints another layer of abstracted forms, often reusing the same appropriated lines and figures that he started with. The result, with its tangled combination of references, is like a remix of a pop song: part theft, part homage, all new.
Frank’s works are in numerous public and private collections and he exhibits widely throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia. His work has been showcased in institutions such as The Whitney Museum in New York City, The Merchant House in Amsterdam, Tim Olsen Gallery in Sydney, Australia, Galerie Paal in Munich, Germany, the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico.