Briefly describe the work you do.
I would describe my work, as a study of ignored moments. All the images that I base my work on share the same theme. Many are busy intersections in the city, a municipal dump, and now working on the flow of water in the surrounding area of my town. My paintings share the idea, that what is being painted has been overlooked by the layman and transformed through abstraction into a new idea of what is truly in front of us. I use my paintings as a way to express the beauty that I see in what I experience in my daily life.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I was born on September 23, 1987 in Managua, Nicaragua, as a year old, my father brought me to the United States as many Central American families did during the 80’s escaping the many wars tearing their countries apart. I grew up in Miami, Fl and during high school was selected to attend South Miami Senior High School for their Commercial Art Magnet program. When I graduated I was interested in world events and was looking to different avenues for a degree. I would attend Miami Dade College and there would slowly begin to be interested in art and continue my education at the University of Miami.
When I transferred to the University of Miami, I began to look for my own voice, how to express who I am as a person through my work. As I researched images and ideas, I was influenced by my trips to Nicaragua a few years earlier, remembering how I wanted to that scenery that I recall during my summer with my grandparents. I began painting images found through books and google, the biggest influence at this time was the book “The places we live” by Jonas Bendiksen whose images of slums around the world reminded me of many areas I would see in my native country.
The work I created during my time in college continues to show and be developed into what I am working on now, that features more of where I live now, working from images that I shoot rather than images from the internet. The influence of my background and culture still comes out strong in the color choices I make within my work.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
My studio routine is mainly waking up at 6 am for some coffee before I get to some painting from 7 am – 8am. At 8am the day starts, many things that need to be done during the day, such as cleaning, errands and manual work on the farm. Most of my meaningful production comes after 8 pm when my daughter is put to sleep. Without any distraction of the day, I can truly focus on what is in front of me. I am currently using one of the rooms in my house as a studio, most the room is filled with boxes of books but I am able to make a space for myself.
I think the notion of “being in the studio” is basically an area where you can hide and make work, free of distractions and the problems of the outside world, the only things that matter is the work. The studio is where I do all of my thinking and writing, I’ve tried other areas of the house but they never seem to work. The comfort of the studio works best to get into my creative frame of mind.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
When I first started making art, I would never thought I would be more hands on with materials, but with time I have found how essential it is to stretch my own canvas and prepare it for new work. I would think that I would just go to the store and pick out the size of canvas I wanted. But the biggest role I never envisioned is a manager, I need to manage multiple things, from writing proposal, researching open calls and managing my own time. I would detest writing, I felt that my ideas are straight forwards that they did not require more than a few sentence to get to the point. But I know now that I was wrong to think that way, researching and writing about my own work only helped clarify the ideas I have about the work.I remember being in High school and the beginning of college thinking that all I would need to do is create good work and things will start coming around. That was naïve of myself, two years ago I moved to Uruguay. Not knowing anyone it is difficult to exhibit anywhere, I began to reach out to local galleries and present myself, the work I created in Miami and how it represented me as an artist. Through this I was able to have my first solo exhibition this year. Now looking towards next year, I am constantly entrenched online looking for open calls in Uruguay and Argentina for possibilities to show next year. Which many ask for detailed account of my work and ideas, thinking that writing wasn’t important I have found that to be wrong and now working hard to improve this weakness.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
I think the best time to make art would be between 12-4 pm, is when I have the best lighting in the studio. Most of the time I dedicate every night to painting or working on something that would help build an artistic career. I mainly paint for an hour in the morning 7am- 8am then at night 8pm -12am. That is my set schedule for making work. Only during rainy days do I paint during the afternoon.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
2011 was the last semester at the University of Miami, I would spend countless hours in the studio, making work like a mad man, spending days and days pulling all nighters alone just to get as much work out before I finished school and would no longer have a space to paint in. That would be the time I would paint in that manner. From summer 2011-2014, I would become busy with life, everything else go in the way of creating art. I would do doodles and small linocut but nothing serious. I would say Fall 2014 is when I began to get serious about my work, after speaking with the owner of Roggia Galerie and the promise of a solo show fall 2015. My recent works, builds upon the work of slums that I made while in college but improved in technique and execution. I would say the biggest difference is my dedication and focus towards creating, there are moments that I give myself a few nights without painting but soon after my anxiety hit me and the need of creating over takes me.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
My wife has had the biggest impact on my work, since she is always pushing me to be the best I can. Always supporting me to achieve my dreams when they seem farfetched. Friends have had an impact on my work, more than the work is the work ethic. Throughout the years, I had the opportunity to have friends that are there to constantly push me to be the best, a sense of friendly competition to achieve success in the same field.A few artist to had impact on my work are Alex Kanevsky, Brett Amory and Kim Cogan, these have been the biggest influences in painting. I have looked at their distinctive style and admire their work to this day enjoying their development. In school we learn about the greats, but sometimes those that impact the most are those we find for ourselves.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
For a moment, I was thinking of doing police academy to become a cop, it was momentary because I was looking for a stable career when I felt jobs were scarce in Miami. Soon after we began the work to move to Uruguay and that became a distant memory.
Carlos Franco-Ruiz (°1987, Managua, Nicaragua) is an artist who mainly works with painting. Graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Miami. By taking daily life as subject matter, he explores the lost spaces of our surrounding. His paintings reference recognizable landscapes transmuted into a color field through the abstractions of hues. The result is a deconstruction of an environment ignored.By exploring the concept of landscape in this fashion, his images become a moment of extraction and addition, created through the layering of varnish as the painting progresses. His works explore to challenge conceived notion that everyday existence is mundane. Carlos Franco currently lives and works in Sauce, Uruguay.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.