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Gunnel Holmér

Smålands Museum, Swedish Glass Museum

Global Glass with Swedish Roots

Hans Frode is an artist who dares to combine different materials and techniques. He paints on plate glass mounted in old wooden frames and his theme is amplified with applied glass details. These additions give the paintings the effects of depth and relief, and with the use of different colored neon light from behind, the effects are heightened. Within the compositions written clues are often found for the viewer's interpretation, but the objective is that the pictures themselves will spark the imagination.The frames becomes windows to other world, openings for the flights of thought in time and space. Sometimes Hans departs from the flat surface to work in more sculptural vein, but even then light plays an important part. A glass violin in its old case and a platter of glass fruits become radiant representations of double entendre.

Behind the paintings and sculpture is a person who carefully contemplates any historical connections. The history of the technical development of glass and its migration to various cultures is of particular interest to the artist. For Hans glass is a phenomenon without borders. His own glass art recalls its origins in discoveries and experiences spanning thousands of years from around the world. But during his time in New York he has also contributed new knowledge and angles of approach. As a Swede, he is fascinated by the path the material took to his homeland and how it gradually attained its own Swedish identity. "It seems that especially up there, in one of the geographical dead ends, most visual impressions are viewed through light from the outside. But still, what becomes interesting is the 'inside', which alters the picture and therefore creates a Swedish expression," Hans observes.

Hans Frode is a Swedish Cosmopolitan living in New York. In his luggage upon arrival he had an art education from England. For a period of time he worked with silkscreen for pop art posters. "The transparent film material interested me but the film was too flimsy, so I started to paint on plate glass instead. I discovered how the painting changed with light from behind, and when I wanted to experiment with different colors I chose neon," he says. In the U.S. he learned both neon and casting techniques and became involved with The New York Experimental Glass Workshop, now Urban Glass.

The visit that was to last for a summer became longer than planned, and now almost 25 years have passed since Hans left Sweden. He enjoys the big city. In this giant "melting pot" ideas from all over the world are integrated and the pace is high. In sharp contrast is the peaceful life on Öland , where he spends every summer to gather energy for approaching challenges. In his homeland he readily exhibits his American glass, and recently he participated in an international workshop at Orrefors. He generously shares his past experiences and welcomes new ones. Important connections between continents are made through his crossings of the Atlantic.

Hans Frode is an artist, not a designer, and through his creativity wants to awaken both thoughts and feelings. He often contemplates time and light, and historical connections as well as the mysteries of the universe offer a dizzying perspective. He believes that in order to see the world around oneself, one has to know what lies behind the reality of the present. So art and science always go hand in hand. He has been called a renaissance painter and he had also said he "wants to go back in time but forward with technique." His clever use of neon tubes is characteristic, and with its light amplifies the experience of the pieces. Maybe these are rays from the past, which expose present phenomena from outside. In Greek neon means "the new", and through Hans Frode's art a completely new concept has arisen called Neonism. And with that a new historical link can be added to the long chain of glass.     


Spring 2000

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