Ephrahim Kishon



Frank Kortan’s artistic style is exceptionally hard to conceptualize due to the impressive overlap of motives, rich in spiritual, philosophical, and experiential inspirations, which he manages to observe in his immaterial visions and to depict masterly on wood medium. Nonetheless, his playfulness with the imagination of the onlooker is incredibly easy to appreciate and fall deeply into... Frank Kortan likes to immerse himself and the spectators in his world on the verge of ‘Real and Surreal’ by the characteristic artistic expression of the nonconsciousness, perceived as dreams and fantasies. What makes Frank’s artworks so unique in the Surrealist genre is his fine reproduction of the Old Master’s technique in the modern era of art where such meticulous attention detail is far gone or missing. This is certainly not the case for the vast gallery of the artist, copious in animist narratives, physical representations of the absolute dream, and the more profound psychoanalytic connotations of the human mind work, seen throughout all of his paintings. It’s our honor to present to you the artist, deep thinker, and humanistic beauty connoisseur- Frank Kortan.


Can you introduce to our readers the artist and creator Frank Kortan? 


I was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. As I was not agreeing with the communist political situation in my country, my wife and I decided to emigrate in 1984. Such escape was really quite risky back then since the borders of these communist states to all western countries were completely closed off. After stumbling upon some danger and adventures on the way through Yugoslavia and Italy, we finally arrived in Tessin, Switzerland. One year later, we moved from Switzerland to Germany. 


I have always been interested in art and I have been painting from an early age...Interestingly at first, I wanted to be a professional musician, so I went to study music. Unfortunately, after we arrived in Germany, it turned out that it was difficult to find a permanent job as a professional musician in the music genre I wanted. Therefore, I had to look for new opportunities for my future. Painting was also a big passion of mine so I decided to become a painter! From then on, I started studying art very intensively.


Amadeus forgotten Opera LE NOZZE DEI PESCI


By taking an explicit look at your artworks, one can also find many references from classical psychoanalysis, reproductions by the masters of surrealism, and animism in the small detail of human stature and expression. Which of those motifs truly overtake in your assorted, unique for you, style of a painter? 


In order to be satisfied with the end result, it is important to tie up all of these motifs in my work harmoniously together. It's a similar process to a cook preparing a tasty meal, none of the ingredients should dominate, or otherwise, the meal will not taste well. Also, my characteristic style and technique are equally important to me. Oil painting is a supreme discipline that has always fascinated me. I paint exclusively on wood because a wooden surface can be primed perfectly with my medium and style. I use the priming method according to the guidelines of the old masters as this has been proven effective for hundreds of years... 


The result is an extremely smooth surface without any imperfections, as delicate as a mirror...





This technique allows me to paint the finest details in several layers on top of each other, which altogether creates an optical 3D illusion. It is also used in the "Trompe-l'oeil" style, which means „To deceive the eyes“. Most painters, however, whether it was in the Middle Ages or the present, have used this technique only for classical still lives. That's not enough for me, which is why I combine "Trompe-l'oeil" with Surrealism and Fantastic Realism. Although this combination is unusual, it is very interesting to me. On one side, it is Surrealism as an expression of freedom of mind and imagination; and on the other side, the meticulously accurate interpretation of painted objects, which must convince and captivate the viewer.


You are referred to as ‘An artist of transcendental intimacy’, but also, as a ‘Master of absolute dream’. How would you describe the creative influences that drive these impressions in you/in your paintings? In other words, what inspires these concepts? 


My paintings are a reflection of my subjective feeling of perception and the result of my fantasy. Everyone dreams of something completely different. Our dreams are influenced by individual daily experiences, conversations with people, and the ways we cultivate our empathy. But to be fully specific, before I start a new painting, I study the given theme very intensively. I read books and I pay a lot of attention to the fine details of the objects that are integrated into the painting. For instance, when I create a renaissance painting, I am only using Renaissance ornaments. 


For me is important that my style is clearly recognizable after finalizing, everybody must say this is a “Kortan”.


You have a pretty spectacular gallery with pictures, together with some of the famous classists in art, music, and culture in the 20th century- including the famous Israeli satirist Mr. Ephraim Kishon. Can you tell us more about your famous acquaintances? How did they influence your lifestyle as an artist? 


I have always focused on playing in the so-called 1st league, so my inspirations were only the greatest personalities in literature, music, and art. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for big names like Johann Sebastian Bach, Count Basie, Frank Zappa, Franz Kafka, Gabriel Marcia Marquez, Jacques Poirier, Philippe de Champagne, Hieronymus Bosch, and many others. One of these influential people was undoubtedly my friend Ephraim Kishon, who was a famous Israeli author and one of the best satirists in the world. He was clearly one of the wisest people I personally knew. 




I often had the honor of being a guest in his house, where we also discussed the topic of visual arts. As you know, he wrote the satirical-critical book „Picasso's Sweet Revenge“, which brought us two together. We both agreed that the vast majority of so-called modern abstract art is junk and a legitimate deception that can nevertheless generate a lot of money quickly. In my specific style, I created a painting for Ephraim Kishon called „MATINÈE FOR LISA AND HER FRIENDS“. This is how he expressed himself in his response to the work:


„In our hazy days, when beauty and art have dutifully disappeared from Beau Art, some artists like Frank Kortan still paint with courage and sacred stubbornness in their own and individual style, but in the spirit and with the skills of the old masters. The picture Frank painted of me in his incomparable mastery is the best I've ever seen of myself, including the one I saw in my bathroom mirror. I've talked to myself many times, but I've never been so silent before. The picture says it all. The painter recognized me. There is no greater compliment. “






If you hadn't gone down that road (of an artist), what else do you think you would have chosen to do, and why? 


It would certainly be something in the artistic field, but what I know 100% is that I would not become an atomic physicist.




Can you say you feel very accomplished as a painter? What’s next out there for you? How do you see 2022 for you and your fellow artists in your genre?


Unfortunately, the current situation is not ideal for any artist and it will continue to affect the art world in the near future. But as history has shown us several times, society has always been fully aware that life without culture is not possible. Whether one of the contemporary artists has success or not, will only be decided by time. 


If someone will remember me in 100 years and my pictures will still appeal to a certain group of people, then I can't ask for anything greater than that. I definitely don’t overestimate my work, I always stay on the ground with facts and realism.




If you can send a message to our audience and new artists in the surrealist and psychedelic genre, what would it be?


Anyone who decides to become an artist, regardless of style, I can advise following these four tips: Find the best teacher, Be persistent, Stay humble, and Believe in luck!









To find out more about Frank Kortan's work and exhibitions: CLICK HERE