Stand at the edge of a void, look down, and what do you see? Most likely nothing. That is if that void resembles what dictionaries define a void to be. In that case, it would literally be an empty space. But artist Frenetik Void’s work transforms this emptiness by filling his ‘voids’, as he calls them, with his memories, struggles, and personal joys. However, they paradoxically still resemble a void the viewer stands at the edge of. And they look down to see… the chaos of being human.
I’ll provide some context first. An Argentinian digital artist and early adopter of crypto art, is the face behind Frenetik Void. It all started when inspired by seeing his own reflection on a screen, Franetik Void scanned his head and body using a kinetic sensor to create the models that would later populate his artworks. The main theme of his work is chaos, and he further developed it when he joined a collective of 23 other Argentine digital artists like Milton Sanz, Fede Bona and Crypt0baby, whose artworks also heavily touch upon this theme. If his work confuses you, that’s kind of the point. Chaos is, after all, the state of utter confusion. Furthermore, his work is visually and thematically reminiscent of the work created by surrealist painters, in its use of strong symbolic language consisting of various bizarre objects, the prominence of the artist’s subconscious mind, and the existentialist thoughtfulness with which he crafts each piece. His assortment of objects, a distant landscape, and use of the human figure and human body parts reminds of Salvador Dalí. The creatures from myths and folklore, like the minotaur and the chupacabras, that sometimes spring up in his work, bring to mind Leonora Carrington.
Surrealism was a reaction to the chaotic blend of elements the roaring 20s were. The Western world was still reeling from the aftermath of World War I. Technology was taking leaps, progressing far into the previously unknown. Cubism and jazz were the hot new thing. The reality in which people had been living was changing, fast, and was looking to go faster. Chaotic would be one way of describing it. In his 1924 Surrealist Manifesto, André Breton called the blend of dreams and reality an “absolute reality, a surreality”. For the Artist and his frenetic voids, which function as his life journal, this combination is key. His art is deeply personal and functions as a way to release inner turmoil. He has said: “I need to create to get through periods in my life. I somehow get overwhelmed by my own mind. My best way of letting go is to channel my emotions and pain and put it somewhere, exteriorize it.” Life can be hard to process, and for him, the way to go is through the absurd, the confusion, the void. Much like it must have been for surrealist painters. This mix of reality and the unreal shows itself in his piece “Arriving Home''. It looks like a scene from a dream, and like a dream, it is deeply rooted in the subconscious. Yet while there’s a large heap of the fanciful and the bizarre in this piece, it is coupled with and grounded by very real human feelings. There are giant eyeballs on a tree but the one human figure in this work faces away from it and instead appears to contemplate the horizon or something we, the viewers, can’t see.
Fantasy & Seclusion, Frenetik Void
Though some of the voids are set in imagined worlds, they are primarily concerned with human affairs. For example, human relationships. Franetik Void has tackled issues like loss, loneliness, and the feeling of being trapped inside oneself. In “Me Ahogo en Perdón,” meaning “I Drown in Forgiveness” in English, a human face looks directly at the viewer, and it is an eerie experience. The humanoid has no hair, but what is most striking is the oddly empty space where there should be skin, lips, a mouth. It borders on the grotesque, but it’s more about what’s missing than about what’s there, as it’s against a shadow of what the mouth would look like if it were there. Wrong is a word that can be used to describe the hole in this person’s face, and it looks painful, agonizing. This is probably what the artist meant to convey. After all, I imagine drowning is no pleasant matter. Yet the water rises on the head, which lacks even the meagre protection lips would have provided. While unnerving, it provides an emotional link to the artist and appeals to the pathos of the viewer. Incomplete faces are a common motif in his work, and they symbolise the subconscious mind. A person’s eyes have been said to be the windows to a person’s soul, and in some ways it’s true. There’s a lot of information to be found in a person’s gaze, but in Franetik Void’s pieces, it’s the holes in the humanoid’s heads that function as the window to their soul. Whether it be a hurricane-like swirl, endless stairs going up and up, or even a mini version of Atlas holding up the world, whatever is inside represents what the artist is feeling.