Each Line One Breath



The work of the artist John Franzen is an ongoing and complex investigation into the mechanisms of the universe, both subjective and objective. For him paper and the colour white represent ‘the beginning’, next comes the line, drawn in ink, graphite or blood. The creation of the line, the movement, the stroke, embodies the essence of creation: Each Line One Breath.  Together his lines format a blueprint of the universe.

Why are your creative?

I have always been creative. Creativity is something like a natural force to me. There was no decision, not in the way that a free artist makes their decisions. To be honest, the common perception of creativity, art and artists is complete bullshit. Consumers of the arts think that artists are living the dream, without understanding the psychology and sociology and biology behind creativity.

My early childhood was spent moving around, living in alternative communities in freezing cold rooms with not much food surrounded by a lot of wannabe hippies taking drugs. It was a wasted environment to be honest, for the first six years of my life. I was creative because that is what children do, and there was no one else to play with. As I grew up I became better at creating things because I did it a lot and I improvised playing by drawing by myself. It was a compensation for wanting to play with others. I would have preferred to be with people instead of drawing alone. Later people said I was talented, and through their social recognition, appreciation and validation I came to think that being creative is part of my nature and personality. It’s more destiny than choice. So I kept on doing it and I identified myself with it without knowing that it was just a social integration mechanism comparable to biological survival.

Another more objective interpretation of creativity is as a universal force in nature. I would say creativity is a natural force, an entropic energy of materialisation and dematerialisation processes. It is the processing of the universe; like a life force.


© John Franzen

When did you discover what you wanted to be? 

For me it was not about growing up, learning everything, being safe and then deciding which part of society to join in order to contribute to the world. It was not a decision based on my orientation and interests, it was more about my creativity resulting from withdrawing into myself – self-therapeutic survival. Later on I became an artist. I was just good at it. Right now, to be honest, I really don't want to be an artist and I really don't like the arts. The system of market, galleries and museums is just boring and elitist. I ask myself: what is our mission? What is our vision? What is our responsibility? What is our contribution to the world as artists? 

© John Franzen

Where is your imagination space? 

I only feel at home when I close my eyes, it doesn't really matter where I am in the outer world. You can put me on the most beautiful beach or most beautiful mountain on this planet and I feel nothing, but when I close my eyes and if I listen with my mind into my body, into my skin, into my emotions, using my senses and my empathy, another world opens up to me. It’s beautiful and infinite, silent and full. It’s about a mental force. Awareness and existence. Kind of a meditative state. This is my imagination space. I truly believe that the whole world is actually just a reflection of spiritual space, or what you call imagination space. A mental concept or a spirit-based construction. In terms of the vastness of the void of outer space around us, matter is next to nothing. Literally. So my imaginary reality, my mental and spiritual space, is more real than anything else to me.

Artist – John Franzen, video by Daniel van Hauten – courtesy John Franzen


How do you save your thoughts?

This is amazing, you wouldn't believe it, but I am the perfect plan maker and thought saver. I save every fucking thought, everything. It is a little bit like OCD I think. I love thoughts, they’re my home and my friends. So, I work in many different layers of papers, books, folders, maps, texts, drawings, analogue and digital. I have three big folders with three main topics: Arts, Spirituality and Science. Its all research about how to perfectly combine human, God and nature.

The Arts folder contains any idea for artworks that I have. It doesn't matter which topic: crossing science with spirituality; pure conceptual or abstract, darkness and destruction, artificial intelligence or astrophysics, sociology and geometry. I have a lot of different-sized sketchbooks that I always carry around. I draw and sketch every little thought in them in order to go back to it later, draw it again properly and then digitise it. The Spirituality folder, which is even bigger than Arts and Science, is all about empathy, healing, the anatomy of the spirit, neurophysiology, biochemistry, bioelectricity... The Science folder is full of ideas about innovative technology: mathematics, algorithms, astrophysics, cosmology, biology, cells, cell membranes, bioelectricity, the physics of darkness etc…

You have to imagine my studio with thousands and thousands of papers all over the walls that are connected to each other. Each main topic is related to other topics and subcategories. All of it is consecutive and coherent – it's a big cosmology of everything. It was quite a shock to actually realise that I had invented my own world. It is beautiful structured and ordered and is concerned with everything and nothing.


What is your dream?

My dream is to be a visionary, a healer, and an artist. I would love to work in a collaborative on art, science and spirituality to contribute solutions and ideas for any kind of problem in this world. I want to create with the people that I like and love, living together and being free to create all kinds of innovative technological, scientific or spiritual devices or concepts that optimise the potential for the combination of humans, god and nature. 


Find out more about John Franzen.