The drawings that Frank Nitsche makes in his studio every day to start his work have an intimate feeling to them. There is a certain vulnerability and sensitivity in the drawn lines and in the drawing as a whole. These drawings are fascinating, largely because the images are never really comfortable to look at. They seem constantly to throw into question what exactly we are looking at. With a few lines, Nitsche creates a drawing that balances – and that is intriguing. The drawings appear to be located in and on a tipping point, exactly where there is tension. The forms are reminiscent of the sketches a sculptor makes before developing the work of art in the chosen medium. They are like elements of the back or arm muscles of a statue by Auguste Rodin.
Frank Nitsche’s paintings have a high degree of ‘being’ and have no need to resemble anything else or to represent something. The rhythm that is in the paintings, which consists of the alternation of large and small planes, shapes and different types of lines, originates in all manner of everyday observations. Nitsche’s paintings are a translation of how he sees the (material) world.
Various ‘form families’ that make up the paintings can be discovered in a work by Nitsche. In the painting CIP-15-2022, a dark truncated circle can be seen, with a strongly accentuated horizontal line at the top edge of the canvas, a number of thin lines, a shape consisting of straight lines and two painted curves, and a light-blue background in the top half of the painting. These different elements appear in nearly all of his paintings, each time in their own new way. Sometimes the lines in the painting fit together perfectly with one another or with other shapes, while in other places they more playfully bypass one another. The number of lines, planes and shapes and their interplay produce all kinds of views through the painting, creating different spaces. In various places, it can be seen and felt that Nitsche has sanded away entire sections after painting. This sanding produces a new layer of its own, literally connecting the different shapes, colours and lines on the canvas.
Physicality plays a role in Frank Nitsche’s work in two ways. On one hand, painting is truly a physical act for Nitsche, a movement, something that originates in his body, almost like a dance. In addition, various shapes in the paintings feel very physical, as if these are curves of joints, as if they are extensions of Nitsche’s own body. There is something very natural about these painted bodily curves. When Nitsche talks about ‘body work’, he is referring to these two different kinds of physicality.
Frank Nitsche’s works emanate a genuine sense of loyalty and connection to painting. This is also why Nitsche succeeds in penetrating so far with and into painting itself. Every painting is a new and thrilling adventure to behold. On a technical level, a great deal takes place qualitatively within one work, and the freedom that the artist allows himself can also be felt. These two aspects, combined with a high degree of concentration, both during the painting and within the paintings themselves, result in exceptional works.
text: Melchior Jaspers
translation: Laura Watkinson