Many heads are better than one

Many heads are better than one

Tue 20 Mar

Every time I look at a work by Frances Blane, I know in my gut that it is right. The feeling of rightness is communicated by a series of squiggles and circles, dashes and scribbles, eyes, nose and hair. A mark that corresponds with breakdown; an adventure in decomposition. She breaks the elements of her craft down to their lowest level so that they come back stronger. There is passion for charcoal and distress in acrylic, tear-stained eyes, pools of eyes, squinting eyes, stars for eyes, squares for eyes, a third eye and dead eyes. She gives us a pair of sunglasses to block out emotion. The calligraphy of faces and spaces speaks of the void where god is – the god of scrawling in charcoal. She sings her praises in acrylic.

Her courage is paramount. That is what I feel when I look at her face repeated over and again in this series. Every mark she makes is an act of courage. On the other hand, she shows us she knows how to paint. She is saying painting is easy because things happen quickly – texture and colour emerge. But drawing is articulation so it is harder. Blane has the courage to draw.

“A good piece of art is never attractive,” says Blane, quoting Paula Rego. So she draws the ugliness of not belonging, and of dissociative states. They are not pretty. They do not feel nice. But there is wit there. Some of her faces resemble clowns – the mournfulness of Stan Laurel and the recriminations of Oliver Hardy. Another face has a raffish, complicit leer – like the sixth or seventh man in Carol Reed’s The Third Man – except that Blane has given us the one who got away with it. Although no one quite gets away with it in her version of a rogue’s gallery. They bear the marks of what they have done, felt and seen on their faces.

These faces proliferate and have the energy to persist in spite of blank pages, muteness, institutions, hardship, and war. There is history in these faces. They come from the twentieth century into this one because they have something pressing they need to convey. They bring us up to date with the past that is always present; with the emptiness that is always there.

Article by Lilian Pizzichini, editor of The Revisionist.

Frances Aviva Blane is a British painter living and working in London. Her next solo show is at de Queeste Art Gallery, Belgium in September 2018.

Frances studied postgraduate painting at the Slade School of Fine Art 1991-1994. Since leaving art school she has exhibited internationally in Europe, the USA, Japan and Australia. She won a scholarship to The Djerassi Artists' Colony in California and is a recipient of a Jerwood Drawing Award. Recently she exhibited alongside Louise Bourgeois and Francis Bacon in a solo show called DECONSTRUCT in Belgium. She has shown in group shows with artists Frank Auerbach, Basil Beattie and John McLean. In 2016-2017 Frances had a solo show at the German embassy London. 

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