Sharing a dialogue with people is a very important part of the artist's work. If he turned to public art, it was because he wanted to "open a dialogue" with as many people as he could - as his taking part in competitions in Belgium and abroad indicates.
(1997, Tervuren Africa museum)
Inaugurated during the hundredth anniversary of the "Colonial Exhibition of 1897", this sculpture was conceived to visually balance
the area between the colonial palace and the "Ecole Mondiale"; which was never built, as the Belgian state decided to stop the works
after the death of Leopold II.
The sculpture is quite ambiguous and is to some extent an homage to the founding king, represented by the play between the monumental style plinths ,as well as questioning colonialism.
Firstly by its title ......a touch of Belgian humour, with a question mark! Then, take the three warriors, dressed up in traditional clothes, lined up like soldiers standing to attention; you will notice they have no feet: a symbolic interpretation of forced immobilisation and repression of their rich and beautiful culture.
Other symbols appear: the lion which represents Belgium, whose head is turning away from the king. The flamingos, with their natural migration are also a metaphor for the human migration between Africa and Europe. The peacock is an inspirational element which reoccurs in artists work between the nineteenth and early twentieth century. It reminds us that Leopold gave artists an enormous amount of work in the building and architectural industry.
The Elephant, a symbol of a powerful and beautiful Africa, subject to exploitation and extermination for its ivory.
Tom Frantzen used the roundabout as a starting point to a play of circles, in which motorists take part.
The fountain is meant to represent Tervuren and to welcome visitors and passers-by. The sculptor got inspiration from African water animals on display in the museum, and staged them as a jazz band.
The successive circles of lawn, water and concrete represent the park of Tervuren. These circles have a similar structure to the leaves of a waterlilies and are also evocative of spinning vinyl records. The water jets create a choreography of chaotic semi-circles.
(1990, Shikanai prijs, Hakone, Open-Air Museum, Japan)
Evoking a meteorite spreading its contents as if they were seeds, the smooth, closed sphere opens up like a womb giving birth to a profusion of live hybrids: a centaur, a ram, a minotaur, a torero, a cat-woman, various fish... all of them symbolising desire, power, violence and the energy of myths, while the mystery of their living instinct remains unsolved.
(1991-1992, winner of the Manzu prize, Utsukushi-Ga-Hara, Open Air Museum , Japan)
This sculpture illustrates a perception of culture as being apparently fast-moving and all-embracing (due to the media), while in reality it is changing very slowly. Here, images are imposed on the onlooker in a jumble, like scrap thrown onto a scrapheap in an endless spiralling motion, while the slow course of the turtle brings him back onto the infinite timeline.
The pillar of life, a huge, immemorial blue stone wounded by thousands of machete strokes, remains standing,
unwavering, despite everything.
On its top, it carries the world in its most fragile form: an egg, the polished bronze shell of which opens up to every possibility, and to the future in which we place all our hopes.
The birds, symbolizing renewal, are taking away with them this trust in the future, and they are taking it to our brother continent, Africa, with which we have shared so much, and had a relationship marked with friendship, treason, love and envy.
Somewhere in the sky beneath which we all live, these birds meet the birds that Rwandan artist Epaphrodite Binamungu sent from Kigali in a similar gesture. When the world started again after the Flood, birds were the first animals to be seen by men.
(2002, Paradisio Park, Hainaut)
Initially meant to join other works in Frantzen's own sculpture park, "The wedding" ended up in Paradisio,
the ideal setting for this cheerfully mad composition.
Obviously, this sculpture is an illustration of the choice Frantzen has made in life - that of revisiting the world we live in and
letting his imagination rewrite it.
Staging animals delightfully dressed up as "humans", he offers us his own view on the world, a view that is marked with humour and glee.
Like the water, everything about this fountain is clear and limpid: the bride and groom, a couple of serious storks, are standing in
front of Mayor Pelican (the pelican being the symbol of Paradisio) who "spits" (because his mouth is the spout of the fountain)
on the matrimonial code he is holding, as if having a joke on the artist's behalf.
When you look at the banquet table, it seems everybody is having a toast to your health; Mrs Praying Mantis is enjoying her lobster (probably a tribute to her late husband); the Pig is happily eating the dioxin-spiked chicken served to him by Master Boxer Dog without worrying about it.
Next to them, on the dance floor, Ostrich, Cat, Mouse and "She-monkey" are dancing in sometimes ill-matched pairs (like in real life!), and having fun to the rock 'n roll music of the jets of the malaria-stricken musicians: Alligator, Lizard and Batrachians.
The sculpture thus created allows the wedding party to last night and day, season after season, much to the pleasure of the public.
(1997-2006, Napoleonkaai - port of Antwerp)
This sculpture is made up of a very simple corten steel structure and of a bronze representation of Jan Cornelis Van Rijswijck,
the man behind the development of the port of Antwerp.
The structure is interactive and it represents navigating (with the steel sheet) and industry (with the chimney pipe).
The stairs symbolize the future.
The spiralling motion of the staircase around the ship's bow and the chimney highlights the link between navigating and industry.
Jan Cornelis Van Rijswijck is standing behind the ship's railing, or behind the balustrade of a factory, about to address the public.
Van Rijswijck's approachable personality is suggested by the fact that the public can climb the stairs and stand next to him. Like him, they can admire the magnificent view on the wharves to the north and they can see the port opening onto the water. From this place, you can dream of the whole world.
In Steenokkerzeel, there are two roundabouts along the airfield, which inspired the idea of making a sculpture in two parts.
Near the village's central roundabout, a wall isolates the inhabitants from the noise of the airport. This wall is interesting for an artist because it looks like it underlines the sky above it. This inspired Frantzen, whose intention with this sculpture was, metaphorically, to go beyond the wall, and fly away into the sky. That is why he chose to put the Renaissance man (who, because he really wanted to fly, was the first to study the human body and the flight of birds into detail) at the centre of this piece. A running man, carried away by the momentum his wings have given him, goes through a circle cut in the concrete, following seven wild geese. This piece creates an ascending motion towards the wall. From where planes land nowadays, the man from five hundred years ago was never able to take off.
At the next roundabout, we are back to present day and, after many pioneering experiments, man can fly.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is one of the most charismatic famous aviators and it is him whom the artist chose to feature here,
as a child riding a flying bird.
A minimalist concrete sheet, reminiscent of a plane's tail, supports the whole piece. Cranes fly through the opening at the top of the concrete sheet. In a continuous motion, they symbolise both taking off and landing, thus illustrating the work of Belgocontrol, the company who commissioned this piece. The birds surge from the sky, take off, fly through the window and off into the distance. A child whose dream has become reality is sitting on the first bird, some way ahead of the others. The first roundabout is located in a space restricted by neighbouring buildings, hence the escaping feel of the sculpture. The second roundabout is situated in an open space, which explains the upright design of the sculpture.
(2009, Fine Arts Museum, Tournai)
Li Belle Hippo was conceived for the grand central space below the big glass roof of the Fine Arts Museum, Tournai, designed by Horta. La Belle Hippo has reached weightlessness. The sculptor has dreamt of making a light lady like creature out of its massive and heavy body - a true celestial being whose fragile dragonfly wings fit in well with the metal armature of the 'Art Nouveau' glass roof. Li Belle Hippo's purple colour gives the gallery below, with its classical white marble sculptures, a refreshing blast and contemporary feel.