Frank Borst (Leiden, 1956 ), een geboren en getogen Leidenaar. Zijn voor ouders (vaders) waren molenaars en van af 1535 in Leiden werkzaam. Als zevenjarig jongetje ging hij alleen op zijn fiets de stad in en kocht Frank een intree kaartje voor het Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal.
Daar zag hij Lucas van Leydens drieluik het “Laatste Oordeel” , Jan Steen en Rembrandt van Rijn. Dat schilderij heeft hem niet meer losgelaten. Kocht een ansichtkaart van het “Laatste Oordeel” en plaatste deze boven zijn bed op een plankje waar Frank zijn dierbaren vonsten bewaarden zoals zijn schelpen, stenen, en 1 wierookpotje wat hij die dag had gekocht bij de chinees Whooping in de Pieterskerkkoorsteeg.
Na zijn middelbare school, is hij toegetreden tot de Ars aemula Naturae; het ‘Leids beeldhouwers, schilder- en tekengenootschap’, is de oudste vereniging van beeldend kunstenaars van Nederland en telt ruim 90 kunstenaars- leden. De vereniging organiseert exposities en activiteiten voor leden. Daarnaast biedt de vereniging belangstellenden cursussen in verschillende disciplines van de beeldende kunst. Frank heeft hier van zijn opleiding genoten van 1977-1980,
Born and raised in Leiden, Holland, Frank Borst was heavily influenced by that city, the birthplace of Rembrandt and many other famous painters. One such painter of antiquity – Lucas Van Leyden – captured Borst’s fascination when he was only seven years old and ‘disappeared’ from his family for an entire afternoon in one of Leiden’s many museums, absorbed in the painting ‘The Last Judgment’. A postcard of the painting above his bed kept the memory alive, and the young boy would even burn incense in tribute to this first moment of inspiration. It would not be the last.
Many years later, the same museum, ‘The Lakenhal’, would buy three of Frank’s glass shells (artillery shells), and the museum’s director, Jetteke Bolton, chose to wear one of his magical Delftware masks for the front cover of her book about her time at the museum.
In the tradition of the medieval guilds he received an artist’s education in the “Ars Emulae Naturae”. Not long after, his work caught the attention of Dutch aristocracy when Baroness Charlotte van Pallandt, a wellknown sculptress who had worked for the Queen, recognized his talent and helped guide his early steps.
An excellent introduction to his work is the book “Back To My Roots”. Here the reader will find exquisitely sculpted human forms; from small masterpieces in bronze, to others in wood topped by pop-art heads of spray-painted baby doll parts (gorgeous torsos with babies on their minds). On the journey through its pages haunting masks whisper of a mystery and connectedness often lost in the harsh realities of the modern world. Or what to think of the world famous and ‘respectable’ Delftware ceramic, unceremoniously shattered to pieces and put back together into far more interesting shapes as Shiva or Pinocchio?
In glass, another favorite medium, Frank created a vivid collection of wildly colored artillery shells, -the type fired by army tanks-, as if to remind all who find themselves on battlefields that color can wipe away the darkness. ‘Hold on to your bullets, friends. They’re too beautiful to waste’. Who could truly grasp the full power of symbolism? One day, while engraving such a glass shell with his signature, angry bees outside were flying back and forth against the window, producing popping sounds. A case of reality imitating art, as within the shell Borst was signing there were images of bees …
A fascination with the theme of ruins, first born from remnants of ancient castles in the Dutch landscape, inspired him to bring new life to scenes of destruction. By combining ruins and stained glass windows Frank seeks to establish a timeless link of light, wherein life and death merge in a sanctity reminiscent of medieval cathedrals. Among these pieces is a burned out car from the war-torn city of Mostar in Herzegovina. (In private musings, Borst dreams of cordoned-off city sections destroyed by war, enlivened only by brightly colored stained glass windows; monuments emphasizing the sanctity of life).
A not-to-be-missed recent work is an actual aluminum airplane that Borst built from scratch in honor of the victims of the 9/11 tragedy in Manhattan. The United Nations sought to display it in New York, but their attitude was subtly lacking in sincerity towards those victims; an artist’s soul is not for sale. The airplane perhaps also symbolizes a flight of freedom, an alternate reality away from the dramatic changes that have come over the world as a result of 9/11.
Today’s world, perhaps more than ever, needs those who are not afraid to walk on the edge between dreams and reality to bring back treasures of hope and inspiration. Borst is one of those edgewalkers with a heartfelt message. Born in the world of symbolism his art takes on a deeply personal meaning when a symbol touches the soul. He has won many awards. Among the collectors of his work are movie stars and New York gallery owner Samuel Dorsky, who flew over to visit him in Holland.
Private collection Samuel Dorsky