'I understand the anger from a lot of people around AI. I had the same. The first time I saw AI, it made me very angry—at the whole development. I thought: what is this? But I also thought: how can I have such a strong opinion about AI, if I don't know what it, is? So I decided to dig into it and explore it. That's the only way to know what you're talking about... Before my work in AI, I was always making my own photos of models and I always stuck very close to the reference. But with AI, I feel like I'm sketching. I can explore more things in a much shorter time; at a much faster pace, than having to depend on photos from models... AI challenges me. And I'm thankful for all the inspiration it's giving me.'
For the twelfth episode of ‘Dutch Art & Design Today’, I sat down with Francien Krieg, a Dutch painter whose work in portraiture explores the process of aging in relation to the human body. Francien studied monumental design at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, and then painting at the Vrije Academy, also in The Hague, graduating in 2003. During her studies, she was intensely preoccupied with the theme of the passing of time and devoted much of her work as a student to exploring the subject. Time has become a central theme of Francien's work, and she is today best known for her large-scale oil paintings, whose main subjects are often older women. The perspectival approach that Francien uses to frame her subjects often results in an exaggeration of scale; such as by zooming-in on a subject's face, so that it alone occupies the canvas; or by having the viewer look 'up', or 'down', toward the painted subject's body. Working out of her home studio—where this episode was recorded—Francien carefully poses and composes her sitters, after inviting them into her studio, photographing them many times, before then creating a composition for a painting. However, in addition to her portraiture in oil paints, Francien also creates works with AI.
In this hour-and-half-long talk that begins with Francien's memories of her father—we discuss how she came to be exploring the subject of time in her work, which directly relates to her father's fascination with death. We then move on to discuss how her student years were instrumental in finding the method and approach to her process. For an artist preoccupied with the passing of time, and portraying the aging process in her work; the pandemic had an outsized effect on her process, and Francien relays how she made use of prolonged periods of isolation in 2020 and 2021, in relation to her painting practice. The last part of our talk is focused on Francien's work using AI—Stable Diffusion and Midjourney—and she explains how the process of working in AI, has inversely affected her work in oils. When it comes to distributing her AI work, Francien makes use of the Tezos blockchain, where her work has been enthusiastically embraced by art collectors. To conclude, Francien explains her choice of portraying subjects in the nude, and how her work refashions outdated ideals around, 'growing old.'
'Dutch Art & Design Today' is published by Semicolon-Press.