That week I kept having this dream that I had a brain tumor, and its name was Nelly Furtado.
corrective statement: Unfortunately, the included text in our current issue PARADISE wasn’t the corrected one, but the work-in-progress version. It took so much blood, sweat & tears to finalize this very issue since we were facing rather drastic budget cutbacks due to the pandemic - and somehow this makes this inattention even more annoying. Major apologies for this fuck-up, here’s the correct version for you. - Sven Fortmann, head of editorial
Given the current climate of frontier law, falsehood and hysteria, it seems as if the idea of escapism is more popular than ever. In actuality though, it is and was always exactly the right moment to lose yourself in an alternate reality at any given point in life and history. And New York-based artist du jour Francesca Facciola is keeping a prominent spot for us to join hers.
Music, culture and art is escapism, and Facciola is mixing all these elements in this gigantic blender set in her subconscious mind. The resulting oil paintings might hit you as being weird and loose and lighthearted and spiced with more than just a pinch of quirky humor, but make no mistake; they are executed with obsessive attention to detail by an artist who’s perfectly aware of what she’s doing. Her latest show - brilliantly titled: “Evil Microwave (A New Era In Cooking)“ - at NYC’s renowned Hesse Flatow gallery offered a cryptic showcase of her inner workings - a highly fascinating and overall entertaining ride that by interpretation seems to be equally informed by teletubbies and very good acid. Lodown had the opportunity to throw some Qs at one of our new favorite artists in mid Feb.
Francesca, it seems as if you didn’t enter the art circuit by accident. At which point did it become clear to you that this actually would be your career of choice? Were you already fairly obsessed with any art as a kid or did that happen later? Exactly! For as long as I can remember I wanted to be an artist. Then it turned into wanting to be an artist or pirate or spy. Obsessed is an understatement. I would draw from life or images I found. I would copy Chuck Close paintings. I copied Kitagawa Utamaro’s wood block prints just because I found a book of his work. Really anything, nothing was off limits. My life was always surrounded by me making things. To this day I still call it Fran’s Craft Corner, because I grew up crafting hard. Making mansions for my Groovey Girl dolls, playing with clay, and sewing. I am grateful I had my own art upbringing because it wasn’t influenced by anyone - it was me just finding shit and being like, “That! I gotta draw!”
What I love about the majority of your paintings is that they’re executed with an immense skill-set and precision, yet they feel paradoxically loose and are owned by a kinda playful ease. I was wondering if you actually have a clear vision when you start to work on a new painting? I like that you said they feel loose even though they are obsessively rendered. Something that really stuck with me from college was this teacher I had, he said, “Sometimes I feel like you should paint when you are a little hung over, that way you are on your toes.” I liked that because I can totally drift off while I'm painting; it is therapeutic. I have to check back in sometimes while I am working. When I come up with an idea, I try to give myself a new challenge in the act of painting. For example, like, paint a hologram, or paint something transparent. That way I am really paying attention and learning from each painting. I definitely have a clear vision when I start a painting. I know what it’s about and everything that goes into the painting has meaning to me. Nothing is random. But the paintings don’t come out exactly how I imagine them. They come out like a fraternal twin of that idea. Imagine trying to explain your dream—it’s kind of like that—you know what happened, but sometimes when you got to explain it, it is not the same.
A lot of your paintings are actually quite trippy and psych-informed - I was wondering where this is stemming from? My paintings can be really personal. They are my memories, and we are all built on memories. So I try and make these paintings, of these stories, in a way that a mind might create a dream. I think everyone at one point has shared a dream with someone else. I like to think of my paintings as that: me sharing my fabricated memory story with the viewer in hopes that they form a connection with it. The way that I paint helps enhance that experience. I will obsessively render the surfaces to give them more life. I can explain a painting, “Say it Right”. It was about this one week in March of last year. I get migraines. I remember having a headache for, like, a week straight. During that week all these ants were hanging out in a circle in my room. Couldn't figure out why they were there and why they wouldn't go anywhere else in the house. I had so many questions. That week I kept having this dream that I had a brain tumor, and its name was Nelly Furtado. So I took these three elements of my week, the ants, Nelly Furtado, and my headache and turned it into a painting. I revisited her music which is very important to me. The second I turned on the “Say it Right” music video and Nelly Furtado comes out of a helicopter, landing on a helicopter pad that says her name in the Willy Wonka font, I lost it. All these memories flooded in, I knew exactly how I wanted the painting to look and feel. And, no joke, when I finished the painting, the ants left my room.
Your latest show is cryptically titled “Evil Microwave (A New Era In Cooking)“. What’s the story behind this great title? I really wanted a cryptic title, like an instruction manual's title, but you don’t know what it’s teaching you. The title came to me while I was melting large glycerin soap blocks in my microwave. On 30 second intervals, I would take the melted glycerin and pour it into a rubber mold I made of my face which was shaped like a bar of soap. After doing this, I felt like I was cooking my own clones in my microwave.
Did you always have more than just a soft spot for working with oil colours? Or is that the result of a rather time-consuming process in which you basically sank your teeth into many different techniques and materials? Exactly! It’s funny growing up being annoyingly stubborn. I use to always say I don’t want to paint. I was, at the time, obsessed with chalk pastels. But ask a younger me and I was obsessed with doing pen and ink drawings. Or pencil drawings at one point, or watercolor, or charcoal. I went through phases. When I got to art school at The School of Visual Arts I had to take a painting class. And that was it. I was hooked; I barely revisited the other mediums I said I loved so dearly. I have been painting for 8 years, and I feel like I still have soo much to learn. The medium allows me to constantly push it. I want to reach next levels and oil paint can allow that to happen.
What are the cards holding for the rest of the year for you... what are you working on right now? I am never quite sure. Everything is always up in the air. With my show, I took a break from painting and have been working on drawings that will be at ‘Got it For Cheap’, at “The Hole” this March. But I'm getting annoyed with drawing and will start painting again. I want to do this big series about middle school memories. Paintings with very juvenile, themes, but have very adult over tones. Like revisiting the memories that were, at the time, “over my head.” Now seems like a good time to turn them into paintings.