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The Living Surface - Seeking Inspiration in Stains

from December 24 2016 until May 14 2017

Lizan Freijsen, Blue Mary, 150-200 cm, tufted wool, 2015 Lizan Freijsen, Treetrunk, tufted carpet, commission 2015 Lizan Freijsen, King's robe in green, 220-220 cm, tufted wool, 2016 Portrait of Lizan Freijsen, photo: Suzanne van de Kerk Portrait of Lizan Freijsen, photo: Suzanne van de Kerk

Lizan Freijsen’s amorphous rugs occupy the territory between art and design. Until 14 May, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is exhibiting her installation ‘The Living Surface’: a selection of her most extraordinary wall hangings. They are the first thing that visitors see as they climb the Robbrecht staircase to the first floor.

Are they mildew or coffee stains? Rotterdam-based artist Lizan Freijsen (56) makes rugs with strange forms based on things that many people find repulsive: fungi and mildew. ‘I want to draw attention to the unwanted, to transform the everyday into something of value,’ says Freijsen. She doesn’t idealise stains and decay but simply wants to show that these phenomena can also be beautiful. The carpets are based on Freijsen’s own photographs and samples of six-week old fungi from the CBS Fungal Biodiversity Centre in Utrecht. 

The installation ‘The Living Surface’, a combination of stains and wall hangings, is on display on the first floor next to the Robbrecht staircase. Freijsen’s hand-tufted rugs occupy the territory between art and design: they are unique and handmade, products that people are happy to live with. Freijsen shows her work at the Milan Furniture Fair and in museums and art galleries.

The way stains dry is not only artistically interesting but is also of importance in many industries, for example in the development of inkjet printers. Scientists are trying to find ways to allow ink to dry more quickly. Surfaces can also being treated with nano particles so that they can clean themselves. As a result, in the future cars will no longer need windscreen wipers. Freijsen wants to document the stains before they disappear: ‘My book is a document of my research into this temporary phenomenon but the result is a durable wall hanging.’

Lizan Freijsen
Lizan Freijsen (Zwijndrecht, 1960) studied at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht and the Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam. She has been conducting research into stains and fungi for ten years. As a lecturer at the Willem de Kooning Academie, she regularly brings her students to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen for meet & greet sessions with artists.

The book 'The Living Surface, An Alternative Biology Book on Stains’ (Jap Sam Books, 256 pages, €28) contains Freijsen’s ‘archive of stains’ and a survey of ten years of her work. It features an essay by Hanneke Gelderblom, an academic researcher in the field of the physics of fluids about the drying process of stains and a critical assessment of Freijsen’s artistic practice by design critic Ed van Hinte. Available from the museum shop.