Current research: Located at the interface of art and science, and deploying discursive, trans- disciplinary methodologies, Schenk’s research links fine art practice, evolutionary bioscience and optical physics - the trajectory being to catapult the ancient medium of painting into the nano-age.
Taking inspiration from nature, and notably the chameleonesque, the aim is to introduce, via novel colour-shift, ‘the dynamic’ into painting – historically a decidedly static medium. And, in doing so, capture on canvas the process of oscillation between permanence and the ephemeral, the recognizable and the obscure, revelation and camouflage. With the promise of new horizons heralded by the arrival of latest “smart” colour-shift technology (which in fact copies primaeval natural nano-structures), this research sets out to prove that there is still life in the “antiquated” medium of painting.
The underpinning science and novel application process painstakingly developed to fully adapt these challenging materials for painting are disseminated through conference presentations and refereed journals. Complementing the scientifically informed and laboratory-based dimensions of the work, these transformative methods have been advanced through their application in the researcher’s own artistic practice. A series of paintings deploying these methods is currently being exhibited at Louisiana Art and Science Museum (2021/2022).
Refereed journal articles
F. Schenk and D.G. Stavenga, “The Lesser Purple Emperor butterfly: From Mimesis to Biomimetics”. Faraday Discuss., 223, 145-160 (2020). Artwork featured on journal cover.
F. Schenk, “Biomimetics, Color and the Arts”, Proc. SPIE 9429, Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication 2015, 94290Z; doi: 10.1117/12.2084302 (2015).
F. Schenk, B. Wilts and D.G. Stavenga, “The Japanese Jewel Beetle: A Painter’s Challenge”. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 8, 045002, 10pp, Special issue on Biophotonics (2013).
F. Schenk, B. Wilts and D.G. Stavenga, “The Japanese Jewel Beetle: A Painter’s Challenge”. Reprint. Zētēsis, Journal of Fine Art, Aesthetics & the Wild Sciences, Vol.1, No. 2, Article Press, 20-37 (2013).
F. Schenk and A. Parker, “Iridescent Colour: From Nature to the Painter’s Palette”, Leonardo, Vol. 44, No. 2, 108-115 (2011). Artwork featured on journal cover.
F. Schenk, “Nature’s Fluctuating Colour Captured on Canvas?”, Int. J. of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, Vol. 4, No. 3, 274-284 (2009).
F. Schenk and J. Harvey, “Reflections on the Natural History Museum: The Art of Iridescence and Nature’s Jewels,” The Int. J. of the Arts in Society, Vol. 3, No. 5, 133-144 (2009).
Manuscripts in preparation:
F. Schenk, “From Mimesis to Biomimetics: Towards Smarter Art”, Leonardo (late 2021).
F. Schenk and A. Parker, “Iridescent Colour: From Nature to the Painter’s Palette”, In: T.I Spector (ed.) Art and Atoms. E-book, Leonardo/ISAST and MIT Press (2012).
F. Schenk, Nature’s Fluctuating Colour Captured on Canvas? In: C.A. Brebbia and M.W. Collins (eds). Colour in Art, Design and Nature. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 97-107 (2011).
July 2021 - July 2022: Iridescence. Group exhibition at Louisiana Art Art and Science Museum.
Feb 2020: Truth to Nature: The Art of Iridescence. The Hive Gallery, Birmingham.
Sept 2019 - Feb 2020: Selected for Ruskin: Museum of the Near Future, The Ruskin, Lancaster University.
June 2019: The Purple Emperor. Max Planck Institute Dresden.
Oct 2018 - Mar 2019: Inspiration Natur-e, Fribourg Museum, Switzerland.
June 2013: Iridescence on the Wing. Group exhibition at Sage Gateshead, Newcastle as part of AIC Int. Colour Conference, Newcastle.
Feb/Mar 2011: The Art of Iridescence, solo-exhibition at Darwin Festival 2011. Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Shrewsbury.
Sept 2010: The Art of Iridescence, solo-exhibition, British Science Festival, Birmingham.
Nov/Dec 2009: In the Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Evolution, School of Art, BIAD. Solo-exhibition to coincide with Darwin’s centenary of Origin of Species.
Sept 2009: From Sea to Air, Central Library, Birmingham. Solo-exhibition.
June 2009: Evolution of Evolution, group exhibition, Glasgow Science Centre.
June 2006: Vibrant 2, group exhibition, Sherborne House Gallery, Dorset.
Nov 2004 - Apr 2005: Mantle of Many Colours, solo show, National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth.
Oct - Dec 1999: Beginnings, group show, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.
Biomimetics, Color and the Arts, Researchcatalogue, 2020.
The Artist Who Imitated Natural Iridescence in Painting, FAENA Aleph, 2020.
The Quest to Understand and Mimic Nature’s Trickiest Colors, Nautilus, 2014.
Paintings Made with Iridescent Nanopaints Change Color on the Spot, Scientific American, May 2012.
Nature’s Fantastical Palette: Color from Structure, Photobiology, 2012.
Iridescence, Lousiana Art and Science Museum, 2021/22