Interviews | January 25, 2024 |

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Image courtesy of Fru

Interview: Fru
Luca Curci talks with Fru during CONTEMPORARY VENICE – 13TH EDITION held at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.

Fru (Beat Frutiger), born in 1952 in Bern, lives in Kaiseraugst near Basel and worked as a art teacher
from 1981 until his retirement in 2013. He publishes under the pseudonym Influenced by
performances of the 1970s, Zen art and training as a make-up artist, Fru has been combining
bodypainting, photography and Zen art in a unique way. His art is a play between the photographic image that represents reality and the painting or sculpture that embodies an ideal. Since his training in 1981, his creativity has been concerned with the deconstruction of fine art, body art and photography for a reconfiguration of the elements into a result in which the image is, as in Zen teachings, “the finger pointing at the moon”.

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Image courtesy of Fru

Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?Fru – I became an art teacher at the School of Arts and Crafts in Bern and I worked as an art teacher for 30
years. The first time I saw a completely painted person at a happening in 1979 during my studies, grass green all over his body, including his hair and swimming trunks, on a wide green lawn, it was an experience that has remained indelibly etched in my mind. There was nothing human about the creature, rather something alien, something that would have been aptly described as a Martian. It wasn’t cute, artificial or a technical object, as you would imagine a Martian to be, but it was real and therefore threatening. I must have had a passion for bodypainting back then.

LC – Which subject are you working on?
F –
For 30 years I have been preoccupied with the fact that people cannot be natural. Human beings are driven by an irresistible desire to change their outward appearance, quite unlike other living beings. With the help of clothing, hairstyle, cosmetic surgery, tattooing and painting, people completely reshape the appearance given to them by nature and change it again and again within a lifetime. Their will to create is therefore first and foremost shown on themselves. Human beings thus become a work of art in the true sense of the word. In this sense, my artistic subject is the transition of the human being from a natural stage to a stage beyond, to a state of art.

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Image courtesy of Fru

LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
F –
The models have to feel as comfortable in their nudity as if it were the natural human state. My
artwork has to be finalised and finished within three to four hours. After that, it is irretrievably
washed off under the shower.

LC – How is your creative process?
F –
I usually choose a topic that I work on for about a year. I usually have a large treasure trove of inner
images that have accumulated over the course of my life. Current events contribute to the theme
with new impressions. I also read a lot on the subject. For example: During Corona, I took on the
topic of the “Dance of Death”. I knew the painting by Eduard Munch, Death and the Maiden. This
resulted in the painting “Dance of Death – Corona”. The comparative death statistics in the press then
led to thirty pictures, cancer, road deaths, suicide, etc. The models also contribute to further results
with their ideas.

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Image courtesy of Fru

LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
F –
My artworks with models were focused on “Still Life”, “Mandalas”, “Tarot”, “Bondage”, “Lifestyle of
the Goddesses”, “12 Levels to Enlightenment”, “Stories from 1001 Nights”, “Strangers”, “Fairy Tales”,
and I’m excited to see what themes are still to come.

LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this event? How is it connected to the theme of the entire exhibition?
F –
CONTEMPORARY VENICE analyzes the relationship between body and space, and the hybridization between identities and cultural/physical/social/urban settings in contemporary times. “Body”, for me is the natural human body (model Emily, as she was born and grows up) and the artificial body (clothes, make-up, hairstyle, hormone treatment) and the human body in art (Schiele, Standing Girl). For me, “space” is expressed by terms like “cis” and “trans”, or the point of view in space and the mental point of view. They lead to hybridization between identities and cultural/physical/social/urban environments today. It all becomes fluid when it is no longer clear what is reality and what is illusion or ideal, when photography becomes painting and painting becomes photography. People and artists have the problem of deciding in which space (private, public, real, digital, Facebook, Onlyfans) they can show which body (natural-naked, artificially styled, as a work of art). Depending on this, they are locked up, excluded, paid or they pay for it. At itsliquid I pay to show the work, at Saatchi I show it for free, on YouTube it is not accessible to everyone, on Facebook I am not allowed to show it and I am still looking for a space where I am paid for the work. Trans people like the model in the picture have to be very careful in which space they show themselves and in what way. The social space (art exhibition) determines the physical appearance (like a work of art by Schiele) and the physical appearance of the individuals determines the social space. Hybridity exists not only between different cultures of continents and religions, but within a culture between different points of view in real, virtual and spiritual space.

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Image courtesy of Fru

LC – We were attracted by your last artistic production, has the artwork presented been created for the exhibition or as a part of preexisting works?
F –
C.G. Jung has a fascinating concept of synchronicity. In this sense, the artwork was not created for this exhibition, nor did it exist before. It was started before the call for entries (and without knowing the subject of ITSLIQUID )and then completed earlier than planned so that it could be exhibited in
Venice. The call for entries simply fitted in well with the work that had just been started.

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Image courtesy of Fru
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Image courtesy of Fru

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