"...Catherine Nichols: You once mentioned that wallpaper was only a medium for you. My question is: Is it really just a medium? And why wallpaper? How did you come up with the idea of painting on wallpaper?

FRANEK: There are various reasons. Even as a student I was afraid of the bare white surface. So I used to dirty the canvas, spatter it with paint or just kind of randomly colour-prime it to destroy its purity in some way, or rather, to smudge it. These primings became the point of departure for my paintings and figures. And it was always very easy, you could articulate the figures very clearly or only hint at them...Later on I replaced these primings with patterned fabric. The fabric basically gives you your background which is quite fun because there’s so much already there before you’ve even picked up a brush.

From the printed fabrics I moved on to wallpaper. And as it happens when you get really involved with something and start researching into it, I discovered some wallpaper manufactured the old-fashioned way whose patterns and motifs fit in really well with what I had in mind.

But to get back to your question: Yes, wallpaper is a medium for me that transports my imagination and generates images inside me. The image is created by a commingling of what is already there and what I add along the way.

CN: Wallpaper as a medium reminds me of domestic spaces, living rooms, a kind of decorated everyday life. In the case of your work the picture plane is inhabited by rabbit men and little girls and other uncanny figures, half ethereal, half ominous; it’s like heimlich meets unheimlich in a way that prevents one from distinguishing the different pictorial levels from one another. Your figures in particular tend to push things more in the direction of the uncanny, the unheimlich. Is there a coexistence of the two in your work: heimlich and unheimlich? You often work with dream worlds and dream figures, does the uncanny play a role for you?..."

Catherine Nichols - FRANEK, a conversation (extract)

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