Fransicsco deSena

Fransicsco deSena

 Fransicsco deSena was born in Praia, Cabo Verde, a set of ten small Islands off the western coast of Africa. He moved to Portugal as a young boy and attended school there until moving to the east coast of the United States. He has recently moved to California and divides his time between his work and fatherhood.

[ArtSHIFTING] How do you work?

[Francisco] There are always one hundred steps before I can really sit down to create. When I do start the creative process all of the initial steps to a single piece are worked out inside my head to the greatest accuracy possible. The execution of the work is where the Art is actually made… in the unpredictability of material and the license of artistic freedom. My art revolves around the idea that art is never lost but instead transformed constantly in the process of creating it.

[ArtSHIFTING] What’s integral to the work of an artist?

[Francisco] The most integral part of the any artists work is time itself. An artist can only create his or her art inside that allotted time span between life and death. This is the reason why art continues to stay vital whit-in the human experience. It (art) is an act that cant be duplicated. All experience of life becomes the subconscious motivation for the artists creation. All this visual information becomes transposed into an expression of that experience. A waste of labor would be to create in the vacuum of someone else’s experience. Creativity is therefore explored with all the senses during this time, leaving behind the Art for others to see.

[ArtSHIFTING]What role does the artist have in society?

Francisco deSena - "Endscape", Arm Factory (Portland Maine), Medium density fibreboard, 2007

Francisco deSena – “Endscape”, Arm Factory (Portland Maine), Medium density fibreboard, 2007

[Francisco] The artist role in society is to educate the public on new ways of looking at Art. With new technologies constantly changing our lives and effecting the way we see ourselves, Art itself, as we know it and how we experience it, is in constant need of affirmation. So, the Artists role is to make it easier for others to recognize  the inherit beauty in the new visual experience that technology can make possible, by making it more accessible to others. Because of this I think most Art today is mixed media by definition.

[ArtSHIFTING] What has been a seminal experience for you?

[Francisco] When I left the small Island I was born in I had an unforgettable experience. I was young but I can still remember today having the overwhelming feeling of longing for that place before I had even left. The experience was compounded by the events that took place while all of this was orchestrated. We were Island hopping at night  in the middle of the Atlantic, about 480 miles off the coast of west Africa when it happened. The reflection of the moon on the darkened, heavy and agitated water will never leave my mind. I began to feel the power of nature at that time, the beauty and the weight of my existence. I was finally awake! Conscious! I felt I had just come into the world. As my mind filled with preoccupation about who I was, where I was going, and if I would ever get there. Every time I reflect on this memory I think of it as the point in my life when I started to see in the artistic sense. The themes in my art are nestled somehow in this one single experience.

Francisco deSena - "Endscape", Arm Factory (Portland Maine), Medium density fibreboard, 2007

Francisco deSena – “Endscape”, Arm Factory (Portland Maine), Medium density fibreboard, 2007

 [ArtSHIFTING] What art do you most identify with?

[Francisco] I identify with most Art. To me Art is something that against all will can not be thrown away. This includes all of the mental process of letting go of something meaningful.It’s hard to do. Unlike some kind of rudimentary object, Art becomes powerful in our lives with the ability to resonate with our emotions.  It becomes powerful for different reasons but never looses that power if someone recognizes it and feeds in to its power. We build museums and house them because they are part of us and we part of them.

[ArtSHIFTING] What themes do you pursue?

 [Francisco]I usually persue themes of opposites… I guess. I have never given it much thought. Like I said before, there is a language in development, but I think it relies heavily on the juxtaposition of objects. Again, in part of educating others to see your work, its easier to tell a story of opposite attractions. To leave more questions than answers is somewhat more intriguing than telling the viewer exactly what he or she is looking at.

Francisco deSena - "Endscape", Arm Factory (Portland Maine), Medium density fibreboard, 2007

Francisco deSena – “Endscape”, Arm Factory (Portland Maine), Medium density fibreboard, 2007

[ArtSHIFTING] Enscape is a really fascinating project.  Can you tell us more about it?

[Francisco] Endscape was an Installation created for show in conjunction with a group in Portland, Maine called Evolve2advance. I worked extensively with E2A in the years I lived in Portland. The Ideas of the group reflected some of my own ideals on politics, social justice and above all, art as a learning tool to better the community. Ensdcape was created in one of our country’s most politically tumultuous times: the Bush years. The period that followed the re-election of Bush was a particularly dark period for many of us. Financially corrupted and  over-zealous, our government became a source of disappointment and shame to us, and to the rest of the globe. This was a view that I shared emphatically with my peers at the time. The atrocities of Abu Ghraib left me utterly stunned at the willful capacity of human beings to inflict true pain and horror on others in the name of Democracy. What I once thought of as an unthinkable evil I had only seen in historic pictures of the two World Wars, became real to me in the images and footage from the “War on Terror”, and held a sense of gravity I had not perviously felt.  I remember a friend saying to me at the time, “All things will be different after this”.

Francisco deSena - "Endscape", Arm Factory (Portland Maine), Medium density fibreboard, 2007

Francisco deSena – “Endscape”, Arm Factory (Portland Maine), Medium density fibreboard, 2007

 In these years I saw some dramatic changes in my artwork. In particular, the subject matter became more figurative and more charged with emotion. The antagonists came to posses a lot of political undertone and dark humor, showing a preoccupation with a sense of the grotesque. All of these aspects came to lie dead center in my work. This was, at the time, a problem I faced, because it exposed what I was feeling inside. I felt vulnerable and often wondered what other people thought about the vision I was expressing. It was a feeling I had not often dealt with in the past.  The images seemed more inappropriate, too, because I had always tried to convey, either through technique or subject matter, a sense of order and beauty in my art. I had previously thought that through line work and harmony of color alone, anything can be made to look artistic. So, it was a particularly hard time for me, in terms of wondering whether others perceived my depictions in relation to the atrocities being committed or simply as aberrations of my mind. I had a sense of shame for what was happening, and it showed in my artwork. Yet I felt compelled to create these sometimes unsettling images and characters, and that they had a kind of beauty in their willingness to embody despised forces that attracted me to give these manifestations life. So, despite my skepticism, I continued to move forward with the project. I knew, at the very least, that Endscape would be received well in the context of where and when it was being made, by the small number of people who would see it, but I was apprehensive about how it would be perceived by others outside my small circle of peers.

Francisco deSena - "Endscape", Arm Factory (Portland Maine), Medium density fibreboard, 2007

Francisco deSena – “Endscape”, Arm Factory (Portland Maine), Medium density fibreboard, 2007

Endscape was a culmination of these viewpoints. I wanted to create a scene that was aesthetically pleasing, having a pastel-like color pallet, all the while the message being hidden inside its mediums. Endscape was to occupy the front end of the gallery at the Arm Factory print shop, housed inside a massive old mill. In hindsight, the size of the mill versus the size of the gallery space was really influential, in a way. Endscap

Francisco deSena – An Artist Born from a Homeland


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