Gijs Frieling

Gijs Frieling to create new work of art in Atlas building

The painter Gijs Frieling is to create the new work of art which will be located in Atlas, the renovated Main Building. Frieling won the multiple assignment put up by the Art Commission for a work of art to be carried out in stages. The TU/e Board accepted the proposal by the Art Commission to grant the assignment to Gijs Frieling.

Mr. Frieling's design appealed to the Art Commission because it deals directly with the way in which science illustrates research results with images. Frieling focuses first of all on book covers of scientific publications. Some of these he will paint life-size on the walls of Atlas. The gallery of paintings will extend throughout the entire publicly accessible part of the building, in response to the Art Commission's request for a multi-stage work of art. Frieling's approach is to accept the images he uses as a basis as they are, in the same way as the artist Roy Lichtenstein did in Pop Art. Where Lichtenstein focused on images from comic stories, Frieling focuses on the aesthetics of science.

Gijs Frieling came to attention earlier when he made his paintings in St. Bavo Cathedral at Haarlem. In 2015 he painted the dome of the 12th century Old Church at Diever (Province of Drenthe).

Prof. dr. Bernard Colenbrander, chairman of the Art Commission, wrote the following of Frieling's work:

Atlas, the renovated Main Building that is to reopen next year, will be adorned with a work of art from the outset. It will be applied by the muralist Gijs Frieling, and it will consist of a series of wall paintings all over the interior of the building. The approximately fifteen proposed images are based on the visual culture of the (exact) sciences. How are results of academic research illustrated? Which graphic conventions apply, and which developments in these may be discerned in the course of time?

A series of trials for the work of art in Atlas were already put on display in the Auditorium in the spring of 2018.  

Frieling conceived the idea for his new work by closely studying book covers of great scientific works. The design fits into the figurative tradition of Pop Art. That is why the selected images are not adopted without any further action, but are first reworked. They are taken away from their origins by copying them into paintings, enlarging them and to let them reappear in a new environment: as wall paintings in the Atlas building. By taking the visual culture of the book as a basis, the new work alludes in a slightly humorous way to its environment which sometimes, perhaps somewhat over-idealistically, is represented as a completely paperless space of work and study. A small editorial team consisting of Bernard Colenbrander, Joep Huiskamp, Harry Lintsen and Johan van Leeuwaarden assisted Gijs Frieling in the selection of appropriate images.

Frieling's work fits into the tradition of figurative mural painting, which is one of the most persistent forms of human art ever since the Lascaux cave paintings. This tradition had a huge impact on for example religious iconography, but curiously enough had far less influence on the world of science.

An attractive feature will be that the public may follow the creation of the new work of art 'live' as the Atlas building reaches completion. For several weeks a team of painters will be busy realizing the project in full view of the Atlas community.