Francisco Franco is an artist and accomplished muralist, whose work adorns many public and private spaces across Northern California. Francisco’s conceptual approach to painting began as a student at the University of California at Berkeley where he graduated with honors with a degree in Art Practice and a minor Philosophy. He then took his studies to New York where he graduated Cum Laude with a Masters of Fine Arts degree from New York Academy of Art. There he also received a fellowship to Oxford University where he studied anatomy at the Ruskin School of Drawing by dissecting cadavers under renowned artist Sarah Simblet.
While in New York, he witnessed the attack of the Twin Towers on 9/11. He watched in horror from a few blocks away as the victims chose to jump from the buildings to avoid being burned alive. The impact of the experience shook him to the core and left him with a deep and terrible sense of his own mortality. This created in him what philosopher call an “existential crisis”; a moment where an individual questions the very foundations of their life: wether their life has any meaning, purpose or value. This took a toll on his life both physically and psychologically. It wasn’t until Francisco turned to his ancestral heritage and oil painting Day of the Dead inspired artwork that he began to heal from this psychological trauma. It was the Dia de los Muertos tradition that allowed the healing process to begin, and in turn his work began to heal others.
The work is inspired but no limited to the genre, the work is much closer to Memento Mori art, a symbolic reminder of the inevitability of death, presented here with a humorous twist. The works are hand painted acts of catharsis; an elimination of a complex by bringing it to consciousness and affording it expression, thus easing our death-related anxieties through expression and humor. The work is a purification that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension. Francisco’s painting are an interesting blend of conceptual ideas and artistic skill. His unique perspective and signature style employs pop imagery, irony and humor. This along with a deep understanding of anatomy, light and form, allow him to present his conception a full spectrum of color and light that evokes a sense of heightened realism and unease. This is achieved by his use of stark light on dark human themes. Francisco’s strong form-sense and use of intense color, come together to create a sense of presence within the viewer, specifically designed to leave an indelible mark on the mind, a visual message resonating profound meaning and deep truth: Making ALL OF US AWARE of the inevitability of life’s final process. Even so, color and humor pervade, thus taking the sting away from death through the playful pleasure of the joke, the malicious joy of laughing at death’s expense, as well as the pleasure of taming Death through fraternization.