Franck De las Mercedes: ‘Apariciones’ One Night Only Open Studio and Reception
Washington Heights based artist Franck De las Mercedes will open up his studio at 330 Wadsworth Ave for one night on September 19th to give people a peek at his new series “Apariciones”. Last year, Franck’s home and studio of 12 years in Weehawken were burned down in a five alarm fire. Though he lost all of his work from the past decade Franck got right back work in his new residence, and earlier this year De las Mercedes was featured on Complex as one of 15 artist about to dominate 2015. We caught up with Franck to give us an look into his new “Apariciones” series.
In the past year you went through a lot of changes with the fire and loss of much of your work as well as personal belongings, but you also had a child. Both of these events by themselves have a huge impact on people’s lives but you had them both occur in a short amount of time, so there was this tremendous amount of loss but also this huge gain, how did these both influence your work?
There was a lot of insecurity in decision making and I don’t think I allowed myself to ponder on the loss much, especially when it came to the art. It took me while to feel at home in our new place. It had nothing to do with the neighborhood or the people, it was more the immediate unexpected change and the feeling of loss which was very abstract in a way. The moment my wife told me she was pregnant, it was as if our lives again were interrupted but this time with a gift, of life and a new beginning. Quite unexpectedly I noticed my turning into expressing my point of view, observations and commentary on family relationships and our humanity. Not necessarily joyful themes, but exploring how we are shaped by upbringing, culture, experiences and events. My work used to be more about expression without questioning or searching an idea. That definitely changed.
What was the catalyst and/or the influences for the new series of work as well as the decision to open your studio to showcase it?
Definitely the fire. I always had an interest in street photography and it is something I did on and off. The very fist thing I had to replace was my smart phone and shortly after replacing it was clear to me that it was my only way of self-expression. I had no home, no studio. I turned to journaling on the notes app and suddenly, before I knew it, I was observing and documenting people on the street, and wondering what their story was. I called the series Apariciones, because when I’d take the photos I noticed something Saint-like to some of the people in the images. I decided to do the open studio because it’s been a while since I’ve participated in art exhibits, and I have not been pursuing galleries much. I want to explore the possibilities of bringing people to my space and this would be a new experiment in my independent artist path. Might even be a good opportunity to network close to the studio, establish myself a local artist and see if we want to take it further with other events and guest artists.
What was the process in creating this series of paintings?
Except for the imagery where you clearly see the subject posing, about 90% of the images are candid photos. The subjects don’t know they’re now in a work of art and the viewer will have to guess where the photo took place. I like the process of exalting the snapshot and extracting them from their original context. By placing them in an abstract setting that makes them almost look as religious figures. I’m attempting to make the experience of seeing one a direct intimate encounter between the viewer and the subject.
Where do you see the new series going and what do you envision for the open studio concept?
I think this series has potential to be exhibited in a gallery or even something more local and community oriented. The fact that I’ve taken a lot of these photos around my neighborhood makes me wish the community gets to see it eventually. The open studio is a way of a creating a more intimate experience for people to see art but also to get to experience the creative space and some of the process. I want to make it more of an art gathering.
Being that we are a graffiti/street art site we always ask what artists’ relationship is with either graffiti or street art. Who or what are your influences if any; that come from those two worlds?
Though I never considered myself a street artist my New York backdrop and the graffiti movement as a whole have always been a huge influence. When I was starting out Basquiat was a big influence on me. But the abstraction that happens on a wall after many tags has always attracted me. I have worked on street art and conceptual art projects like “The Peace Flyers, The Priority Boxes Art Project (PeaceBoxes) and Bin Poetry” in the past which involves people and call for people to become activists or take some type of action. I think it taps into spirit of free expression found in Street Art.
To RSVP for the reception and open studio please email firstname.lastname@example.org
and check out Franck at franckdelasmercedes.com or follow him on instagram @franckstagram