Examples from a series of black flags painted by Franko B as part of the Black Paintings.
Interestingly the flags are not those of nationalism but of major world powers and
conflicting authorities with a strong representation of current political animosities
and outside threats to self. The anxiety of the disappearing individual amongst the
global identities, armaments and super-powers.
Portrayal of the bad thing or horror as the dark shadowed man, however there is a
counter of the man as the symbol of faceless isolation and melancholic beauty. We
begin to see Franko’s work as a paradox and the beginnings of a re-discussion on
the sublime. We see the black hole within the figure and the figure within the black
hole. This soul is us, the faceless chain of humanity, both singular and joined within
the unending Lacanian “Das Ding.”
Placed on the same wall, each of these still remain isolated. The encompassing out-reach
of suffocating existence, yet the works themselves remain cut off. They make no
eye contact, nor do they invite it, we pry in on moments of dehumanisation and supreme
The Cross in Franko’s paintings forms a symbolic bridging between symbolism and the
tangible. The work speaks with strong representational value for a trilogy of crosses:
the Red Cross, medical crosses and the crucifixion. An eternal circling of suffering,
loss, healing and resurrection which we are invited to participate in and bear witness
to. All of the images have personal significance for the artist as discussed in his
interviews on his orphaned upbringing in the Red Cross and Catholic background.
Franko’s mother and child is entrenched with melancholia and loss but it does not
resonate with the ideology of the Madonna and Child. The work does not identify with
notions of earthy pagan goddesses or feminine power as typically discussed in relation
to Black Madonna icons, dominated instead by notions of grief and the bereavement
of mother and family. There is a strong equation with Franko’s own orphaned childhood.
Images of fragility and hope, the birth of new life in the dark.