Who is Fran Baena?
Fran Baena, is a very gifted young contemporary artist from Spain.
He has a University degree in Fine Arts from the Alonso Cano College, Granada, UGR. Spain.
The artist tells us a bit about himself, his work.
I propose to build a work that is like a friend to go to, with which to be able to cry and laugh at the same time.
A work to tell you that you are fragile, weak and can’t hold the weight of the absurd all alone by yourself, because the best part of this is that you’re not alone.
In our Contemporary Tragicomedy the world has coalesced into one giant mess of hate and unrest and breaking news: we are all depressed, LOL!
i understand you
For a long time I have been trying to establish a work committed to the zoomer generation, to the depressed teens and twentysomethings of now and tomorrow.
The research project that I am working on and that I would like to continue developing constitutes a help or a support for those who have a hard time, and a witness to the consequences of contemporary sadness, in the same way that bands of rock and alternative music such as The Cure, My Chemical Romance, Linkin Park, Parálisis Permanente, The Smiths, Bring Me The Horizon, Avril Lavigne, Yungblud, Nirvana or Lil Peep from the 80s to 2021.
I think there is a lack of references to this in the plastic arts.
I work a painting closely linked to the post-internet world where I am especially interested in the irony of that feeling that we have that everything is going wrong but at least we will always have the humor to laugh at our own misfortunes.
Therefore one of my main resources is the use of memes and sad songs we share laughing with friends, filtering what is necessary to register the uncertainty of our Contemporary Tragicomedy, along with an existentialist philosophy.
At the same time, I like to listen to and emphasize the political poetics that images imply for the fact of being paint and how those images consumed on the internet affect art: large or very small formats to add transcendence to the object of discourse;
the act of painting giving importance to the sadness hidden by the consumerism of happiness; egg tempera and home-made fabrics as a way of giving relevance for traditional seriousness to images with origin and destination of rapid consumption, schematic and apparently banal; exclamatory color ranges; passing from painting previously articulated in digital with the
Instagram stories drawing tool to a physical format; or the gotelé (a stippling texture typical of the house walls in Spain) as a poetic link between the slow innocent wound that produces to the skin when rubbing it from a Spanish rural tradition and the slow and silent erosion in the chest that anxiety leaves from, it seems that it will be, a world urban tradition.
Because I know that no teenager with depression wants to die, but to escape from life, I can only say that I understand.
Fran answered some questions:
When/how did you find out you are an artist, was your family supportive?
I started painting plein air, landscape, in my town when I was 8.
Before that I did swimming but I started having asthma so I had to quit, and my parents signed me up for a painting course I’ve been in for ten years.
But it was at 15 that I finally felt the calling.
They have always taken me to the shows I asked for, or have allowed me to study at the university.
What is your relationship to Instagram?
Instagram is my main tool.
I do my sketches on Instagram stories using the characteristic round brush.
It is also my main gallery and a way to make myself known and take references.
My work, today, could not exist without Instagram.
It’s my favorite place to steal images and talk about the world.
But be careful, it has many sinister elements you should deal with.
How important has digitalization become for you in connection with your art practice?
As i said it’s my all. I could not add differentiating elements when digital becomes physical painting like drips, loaded brush strokes or gotelé (spanish rural stippling texture) if my intention was the same as that of a photorealist artist from the 70s. I could copy it exactly, print the picture or let it digital, but I want it to be what in Spain we call “pintura-pintura”, I mean, painting with all its characteristics and possibilities like a Goya.
Do you find that the pandemic has left a mark on your work?
Not really, I did not do any work about it. Just kept working on loneliness and anxiety. Mental illness seems to have been aggravated.
Where, when, how do you work best?
At the moment I work mostly in my own bedroom. I have a little empty room in a flat in my town too, but that’s only for the summer.
This is a problem because I usually work with very large formats and I barely have an empty space on the wall to work and I don’t have a place to store my work either.
I wish having a real studio but at the moment I have no money, I am only 21 years old, I guess it will come.
Where, how do you usually get inspired?
I like to surf the internet stealing images in forums, magazines or Instagram, modify them and think about how we consume them. It’s all about recycling!
What does success mean to you?
I think there are two types of success that I want.
The first is simple, be happy and be able to continue doing everything I propose.
For the moment I do painting, but I have always wanted to write a play and design the costumes and sets.
I love the theater, in fact, when I paint grass or sky in my pictures I interpret it as a theater set.
The second one is knowing that I have been able to contribute a little bit of myself to the world, I would like to form a center of psychologists specialized in child victims of bullying, making sadness more visible and normalized, and see bullying reduced.
What are you working on currently?
I’m trying to mix more realistic images with the round strokes, like some kind of collage, attending to the poetics of those images.
I don’t want to leave anyone indifferent, I want to make you think and take beyond a certainly cute aesthetic that without that could look banal.
But I’m always thinking about death, and you should too.
Death is the most important thing.
And anything else you would like to share?
I’ll be exhibiting in Madrid in July, taking part of a selection of the supposed best artists of each faculty of fine arts in Spain and the funny thing is that the painting has been damaged by an oil halo that has appeared around an area, I have asked restorers and other artists and no one can tell me why it could have happened, but don’t care, it doesn’t really bother and it seems like it was literally on purpose.
These are the things that would not happen in digital, but you know... “pintura-pintura”.
I would also say that I work with an artistic collective called Colectivo Acta, they are some of my best friends and always support me.
I trust a lot in all of it.
Fran shared some quotes:
Breaking News: We’re all depressed, LOL!
Death is the most important thing.
I want it to be what in Spain we call “pintura-pintura”.
For more on the artist:
Instagram: Fran Baena
2017-2021- University degree in Fine Arts. Alonso Cano College, Granada, UGR. Spain.
2020- Curatorship of Exhibitions. By Regina Pérez Castillo. Public School of Cultural Training of the Junta de Andalucía. Spain.
2020- Curatorial Laboratory 5th. Mediterranean Center, Granada. Spain.
2018- Critic & Curator workshop. By Regina Pérez Castillo & Juan Francisco Rueda. Mediterranean Center.
University of Granada.
Collective exhibitions (selection):
2021- Salon Brand New. Cultural Center Conde Duque. Madrid.
2021- 4x3 Botí Abierto. Rafael Botí Foundation. Córdoba. Spain.
2021- exposición_1. Colectivo Acta. Palacio del Almirante. Granada.
2020- Plantas de Interior. ft Ana Barriga. Hospital Real de Granada.
2019- Valientes Gamberros. Estudio22. Logroño.
2018- Arte Aparte X. Centro Cultural de Arte Contemporáneo Juan Francisco Casas. La Carolina.
2020- the lovers. Mural for 6m2 in Espacio Lavadero. Granada.
Work in collection (selection):
2020- Acquisition Prize for Contemporary Art Collection of the University of Granada.
A very big thank you to the wonderfully talented Fran! He created and sent me such a fun portfolio, loved it!!!