Observer: Frank Plant | Artist
Interview by Lauren Downing
Photography by Margaret Stepian
If there’s one thing I learned from my interview with Frank Plant, it is that the artistic process doesn’t have to be heroic or deadpan a la Pollock or Rothko; it can be fleeting, transitory and, well…an enjoyable and not all around miserable process. Working through the medium of wire, Plant creates wall mounted sculptures that are easily accessible and a joy to look at. In my experience with them, I don’t so much feel obligated to make use of my art history degree (Why? What does this mean? What are its implications?) so much as I stare in pleasant wonderment at his installations, curious as to how Plant quite literally weaves narratives out of household wire. While I do not mean to debase the import of his craft through my admission, through our conversation, I gleaned how it is Plant manages to keep it light and keep the art patron rapt. Quite simply, he is a man who wholeheartedly believes in what he is doing and isn’t afraid to follow a whim—including his decision to move his practice to Barcelona. I mean, who ever said that an artist had to be tortured?
What’s your AMMO?
Frank Plant: A good kick in the ass. Sometimes it’s hard to get started. I read, I dawdle, Right now Fela Kuti…
How did you find your calling?
FP: It called me, collect. There was a bit of aimless wandering but after awhile you begin to instinctually drift towards what interests and inspires you… with a few distractions.
How did you find yourself working almost exclusively in wire?
FP: I think I always analyzed form and contour by line and I was definitely attracted to 3D so i guess it was just a natural progression. I used to do all 3D but now mostly all of it is the drawings in steel bar which I call 2.5D.
Do you find the medium of wire to be at all limiting or prohibitive to conveying your message?
FP: On the contrary, I’ve been working with steel bar for a while now and I feel like I’m still just scratching the surface. The more you work with any material the more possibilities you can wrench/coax/ cajole out of it.
What story is it you want to tell through your artwork?
It really varies, sometimes it’s a bit of everyday poetry, just a quiet moment captured, sometimes something social. I just did one on the Supreme Court. Or sometimes it’s something based on composition. I guess there’s not one thing really that consistently I’d like to communicate just reflections that in the moment seem worth communicating.
What do you feel is your responsibility as an artist?
FP: To work, continue to grow and learn. Turn myself on and see if I can’t spread some of that enthusiasm. I do a lot of socio-political stuff but I don’t see that as a responsibility. Oh yea and the dishes have to be done on occasion.
How did you find yourself in Barcelona?
FP: I’d like to think a series of good decisions led me here. I used to think that if you could see palm trees where you are then you’d probably made a good decision at some point. I also used to live in Amsterdam and you get tired of the weather there right quick.
What artists do you idolize or aspire to be like? Who would you be flattered or humbled to be hung next to in a museum?
FP: Santiago Sierra I feel is in a league of his own. I like Jon Pylypchuk’s work a lot as well. Helmut Smits, Fred Eerdekens, Tara Donovan, Patricia Waller, Michael Rakowitz… and on and on. You like different artists for different reasons, some technique, some concept, some material. Sometimes you get lucky and you get all three.