Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I was lucky enough to be in Toronto and catch Franco's work on display in a gallery a few months back. His work was wonderfully colorful and drew us into the gallery. I thought the medium was equally interesting and I'm excited he took the time to share with us how he creates these beautiful works and where he finds inspiration.
|Share this Post||Tweet|
CL: What is your background?
Born and raised here in Toronto to Southern Italian (Calabrese) immigrant parents, I graduated from the Ontario College of Art (which is now called the Ontario College of Art and Design). After graduating from school and traveling I began a career as a freelance graphic designer, which I had worked at until 2001. With changes in the labor market, affected by the notorious "tech bubble" and a personal desire to shift career possibilities I began working in the renovation industry as a carpenter and general tradesman. After working in the reno industry for a couple of years I returned to school to resume art studies and have been a working artist since 2004.
CL: Can you tell us a little bit about what "Plasma Gel" is and how you use it to create your beautiful work?
Playing with computer software - working formally with shape, color, composition - I began to have a dialog with what I was doing that conjured up associative elements that informed what I had been experimenting with. The resultant imagery, which had a retro-futuristic, eye candy-ish visual characteristic inspired the name and concept - "Plasma Gels". Being a bit of a word smith and a passionate observer of advertising, marketing and pop culture in general, "Plasma Gels" had been a sort of brand concept that simultaneously described the works computer generated, hi-tech origin and it's translucent, liquid crystal visual characteristics.
As I continued to experiment further and develop this series, I wanted to create an artwork that would extend beyond the computer generated image - [re]produced as a print - as a final work of art. Devising solutions to create an art object that combined my computer generated imagery into a mixed media object. Utilizing my carpenters background and my interest in minimalism and hi-design, I began to work with laminated plywood as a base for mounting my computer generated images.
Although plywood did not necessarily have a hi-tech presence about it, the materials industrial quality and minimalist aesthetic complimented the imagery and when combined created a hi-design art object.
Continuing to look for ways to create a finished art work of high finish/high design, I noticed local painters using resin as a top coat, which added a luster and depth that I imagined would compliment the work I had been doing. After further research into how these materials could work together and a period of trial and error, the resin coating - which completely impregnates the image and plywood base - is ironically poured on as a gel and its clear and sumptuous quality - like a candied state between solid and liquid - totally added to the "Plasma Gels" concept.
CL: What is the experience like when creating your plasma gel pieces?
Are you influenced by the color in your creations, or are the colors planned and your emotions influence the color choices?
When creating works in the Plasma Gels series, a variety of different and somewhat contradictory aspects are experienced. As I had alluded to in the previous question, the Plasma Gel series for me provides a dialog where ideas, concepts and impressions from the culture around us, the history before us, and the vision ahead of us kind of commingle in a sort of dialectical fugue. Perhaps schizophrenic would be an appropriate description - on the hand I could be experiencing a sentiment where the images and associations to what I am currently doing entertain a certain blissful yearning, while the same experience momentarily or perhaps on second look offers a satirical response. The process involved in creating these works run a gamut that include issues and aspects ranging from the personal, emotional, conceptual, and cultural.
As far as the influence of color on my work, I would say that colors are chosen by chance as much as colors are chosen deliberately. Initially, perhaps naively, a color pallet which I have in front of me in a computer software application is used without really any premeditated value, and through a process which shapes colors, blends them, and layers them in translucent opacities, a response - be it emotional or conceptual will take over and guide the process in perhaps a more premeditated or controlled manner. The work undoubtedly is about color and through a process which quite honestly begins with a possibility of not knowing what to expect, I am usually surprised by what I end up with.
Although the element of surprise is present in the process, I also find attributes of color which are complimentary or perhaps idiosyncratic to me - like a signature. And as much as I push the color spectrum in various ways in an experimental manner there are always those particular hues which I gravitate towards. Some I find solace in and others that provoked me.
CL: With color as the foundation for these pieces, how do you use it in your work to create an experience for the viewer?
This is an interesting question in that, I suppose that I am completely so self absorbed and narcissistic that I wonder if I actually perceive anyone outside of myself. Self-deprecations aside, color is definitely used as a vehicle to suggest or perhaps to evade, to control as well as submit. As I mentioned in the earlier question about the various contradictions and confabulations I experience within the process of creating works in the Plasma Gel series. The discursive dialog that I experience, I hope is translated allowing for a more open ended experience that ironically pleasures as well as provokes, soothes as well as seethes. Where the vision of ideal beauty is perhaps not a reality but a semblance, a fabrication of an ideal. Although I work tireless to create beauty, there is always a slight of hand - an ambivalence - that questions its authenticity, which allows me to experience and express a tension within the work.
CL: How do you find your inspiration for your works?
Inspiration comes from many sources: the personal, emotional, cultural.
I find inspiration can come from every possible aspect that exists around me and within me or perhaps reflected in me. Inspiration comes from all aspects of life from the mundane to the sublime and sometimes ironically from nothing at all - only from the act of doing.
It is very hard to try and show just how amazing Franco's work is with web images. If he comes to a city near you, make the trip over to support our friend and see his colorful art first hand.
*Update* Here are More Pics of Franco's Art: