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Frank Bezemer has recently created wooden bars made of birch branches that he cut into segments, painted with ten different colours and then joined back together. Each bar consists of twenty eight segments painted in black, blue, brown, green, grey, purple, orange, red, yellow and white.

In 1994 Frank Bezemer creates this work by connecting 37 woodblocks. (Collection Valkhof Museum Nijmegen)

In the first decade of his artistic career Frank Bezemer focused on painting.

Selfportrait 1986

Then he was working on sculptures.

Goed 63inch/160cm high 1987 various materials

During the last ten years he was actively working on art in public space and landscape.

In 2003 Frank Bezemer designed a new sandpath and this ore sign

The bars represent the point where all three disciplines meet. As in painting the composition of the colours is part of the essence. The shape is the sculptural component and the birch is the connection with nature. In the past, Frank Bezemer already combined painting and sculpture.

In 1985 Frank Bezemer already combines painting and sculpture.

Frank Bezemer has long been familiar with the works of André Cadere (1934-1978). Two recent encounters with the works of this conceptual and minimal artist, first in New York and then in Paris, strongly stimulated his artistic life.

A round bar of wood André Cadere

Cadere is known for his Round Bar of Wood. The two hundred bars that have survived were painted with a number of colours, depending on a simple mathematical system of permutations. As a homage to Cadere and as a creative exercise, Frank Bezemer commenced to produce new bars. He is, however, not very interested in the mathematical system that forms the basis of Cadere’s bars.

Instead Frank Bezemer is fascinated by a linguistic phenomenon. While in physics colours are arranged according to wavelength, in language it is natural to organise words alphabetically. Because every language uses different terms to denominate the colours, the order of the colours differs in every language. By approaching colours in this manner, it may be observed that the visual appearance of the series fluctuates per language.

While studying Cadere’s works and life, Frank Bezemer decided to pay a homage to Cadere by creating a bar in which the Polish alphabetical order was taken as a starting point. Cadere was after all born in Poland. Then Frank Bezemer made a Rumanian bar, alluding to the country where Cadere grew up. And finally he created a French bar, referring to Paris where Cadere spent a part of his life and eventually died an early death. Bars in other languages, such as Greek and German, have followed afterwards.

Frank Bezemer (right) in Munich

Halfway the bars the complete series of colours can be detected and on both ends parts of the series are mirrored. The system to which Frank Bezemer subjects his own ten colours is fixed. It is applied in the same way to all the languages of his choice. But the tone of the colours can vary from one bar to another and each bars contains one fault.

An essential aspect of Cadere´s work is that he not only exhibited his bars, but also presented them on various public and social occasions, such as openings (though not always himself invited) and in pubs. In this way he took his works from the institutionalised context of museums and art galleries. As a public personality, Cadere had himself photographed with his art works during such events.

Frank Bezemer was photographed in Aarhus, wearing a white suit on a grey day and carrying a colourful bar on his shoulder. His Polish bar travelled with him on the train to Munich, where it also attended dinners with the artist’s friends. Thus Frank Bezemer opens the dialogue with his audience. The bars become mobile art object and relate to his previous activities in public space.

At first sight the similarities with Cadere are more conspicuous than the differences. Frank Bezemer takes Cadere´s work as the point of departure for his own research on colours and shapes. The comparison with a musical piece may be used to typify the relation between both artists. At first the musician plays the prescribed notes, but as soon as he becomes acquainted with the piece, he can understand and interpret it and eventually produce his own version.

On second thought the differences become more clearly visible. Cadere never used more than seven colours and particularly no grey and brown. Frank Bezemer’s ten colours reoccur in every bar. Cadere’s bars were round, parallel and straight. Frank Bezemer follows the organic form of his original branch by cutting it into different segments. This makes the elements of a series different in size and shape. He also tries to find such a delicate balance for the bar that it results in an object that can stand on its own.

Milou Goverde MA, 2011