Marcel Duchamp said, "The work situates itself in the eye of he who is looking." Thus, we must look at these works, which stare back at us deeply, and leap into them as if into mirrors. This is the only way we can attempt to understand the intention of their creator, Catherine Franck. In her work she proposes and exchanges of glances, a sensation of an enigma. In the strokes and folds of painting and patchwork, her entire story, that of an artist is woven.
Franck was born in Sentier just outside of Paris in 1960. Her father, Marcel Franck, born in 1895 was the head of a leather clothing business but was first and foremost a man of the theatre. Her mother, younger than her father, held the reigns of the company's manufacturing. Her parents were real bohemian bourgeois, giving Catherine the opportunity to grow up in a lively cultural setting. She weaved her life, always active and curious, through everything that happened behind the scenes. Even at a young age, the language with which she speaks comes from being the child of a father from another century. It is with this, her paintings, that she speaks to us in this foreign tongue.
Graduating from Paris 9 University in 1991, she began working with the Jean Nouvel architecture firm. However, she "was not born to be an architect". She decided instead, to travel, to follow her intuition, prioritizing the things that she could transform and the chance meetings that inspired her.
Portraiture followed her everywhere, as a child she was deeply moved by the works of Ingres as she walked through the Louvre. "There is truly someone in the painting" she thought to herself. Later, she approached the works of Velázquez, Vermeer, Van Dyck, artists whose "portraits would look at me and captivate me with their gazes". Her "painterly approach" truly began after 1991. Her works tell of a journey; a painted diary, a catharsis where she makes her pictorial marks, a long cabinet of curiosities. At first, she focuses on faces, portraits of men on tiny pieces of wood, much like the work of Claude Simon, or that of Markus Lupertz, who was captivated by neo-expressioniisme and extravagance. The faces accumulated into powerful and piercing gazes, Extasis, painted in 1992, was inspired by the Polanksi film The Tenant. In 1993, it was Peter Brook's book, The Mahabharata, which inspired Franck's work Earth; where withing the red of the theater is depicted, a cosmopolitan white-black face emerges.
Africa, Spain, Mexico, a shade of Paris. The Renaissance, the Baroque, German Expressionisme, Jean-Paul Gaultier. Dance, Butoh, theatre, acrobats, music, fashions, her hassles and trials, chance. Cats, dogs, rats. All of these themes or figures burst into her works as an endless collage of characters, fabulous, alone or tormented. Real people, but also beings of fiction, chimerical beings who Franck gives a names, imagining a piece of their life to which she gives a second meaning. Her work, Beloved, in 2006 is directly inspired by the text of Toni Morrison, but it is also a "femme-esprit" that Franck crossed in the street.
Franck either creates or removes a mask, going from twilight to sunlight, from distress to joy, from ghost to the carnal, with a brutal, unrelenting tension between the spectator and the subject. Red often explodes in the dark, in a violently expressive and colorful painting, where light always illuminates the dark backgrounds. Beginning in 2000, Franck began to focus on couples, playful women, more nuances colors, sometimes lightness, sometimes furrowed brows.
This is the continuum of Catherine Franck's works from which her recent canvases have appeared, a series of fourteen works conceived between 2018 and 2019, exhibited by her gallerist Eric Landau.
Singular eyes, a game of glances that has pierced the history of art, from the eye of Horus to the big wall eyes of JR, a trompe-l'oeil with kinetic effects. Catherine Franck has captured theses glances, and if, as a witness of her time, she does not look away, she speaks life into her subjects, as if they are coming out of a tale or a fable, giving them a serious look upon the world. She wields the inspiration of Velázquez, mocking baroque effects and reflections of clothing with wrapping paper. She places on the knees of her portraits a dog like one which remained lying at the feet of the Meninas in 1658. However, she looks at "the painter who could only paint heads" right in the eye. Jean-Michel Mendiboure once wrote, "The eyes of Velázquez's characters allow them to stay alive in the paintings because they express the life of the invisible spirit that is in them. And in the one who looks at them"(1).
Anne-Marie Fèvre - September 2019
(1) A propos des yeux et du corps dans quelques tableaux de Vélazquez de Jean-Michel Mendiboure, novembre 2006, Lyon.
Catherine Franck is a French visual artist, born in Paris in the 60s.
- DPLG Diplôme d’architecture, UP9 Paris la Seine, Paris
- DEUG Arts Plastiques, Paris 1, Paris
- W-Art United Festival, Galerie W, Paris
- CC/Coups de Cœur, group show, Galerie W, Paris
- Luxembourg Art Week, Contemporary Art Fair, Galerie W, Luxembourg
- Bics et peintures, Maison du pays coulangeois, Coulanges-la-Vineuse
- Éléments de flottaison, group show, 59 Rivoli, Paris
- Laureate of the 9th edition of the Biennial of Contemporary Art of Strassen, Luxembourg
2012 - 2017
- Group show, Galerie Pierre Kleinmann - Espace Saint Germain, Paris
- Peintures, group show, Ambassade du Liban, Mexico
- L’enfant mécanique, group show, Galerie L'Art de Rien, Paris
- 4 saisons, Great market of contemporary art of Bastille, Paris
- Bics, Galerie L’enfance de l’art, Amiens
2006 - 2009
- Falbalá, Galerie Florencia Riestra, Mexico DF
- Passages, Galerie le Groj, Saint-Germain-en-Laye
2005 - 2006
- Itinerant group shows organized by the Regional Council of Bourgogne
2000 - 2004
- Best regards, So far so good, Parades, Misfits, Astarte Gallery, Paris
- Peintures et dessins, Galerie Chardon et Petits-fils, Paris
1999 - 2000
- Flecha : Foire de Libération d’Espaces Commerciaux vers l’Art, group shows in shopping malls, Madrid
- Flash back, group show, Astarte Gallery, Paris
- La Grande Masse des Beaux-Arts, Paris
- Salon des Arts of the Biennial of Auxerre
- Salon des Arts of the Biennial of Auxerre
- Regards croisés, Espace Déclic, Etampes
- Peintures, Galerie la Lucarne, Paris
- Special audience Award : Chimères, Galerie l'Œil du 8, Paris
- 1st prize of the competition : La Nuit, Galerie l'Œil du 8, Paris
- Public prize of the Salon de Peinture et Sculpture de Maisse