Wednesday, April 11, 2012

BEAUTY: Illustration--Graham Franciose

The lovely, poignant work of illustrative artist Graham Franciose is deceptive. On the surface, it is charming with thin, waif-like characters with large heads interacting with animals in scenes that recall sweet fables or fairy tales. But when one looks closely at the narrative along with the title of the pieces (an important clue), one is struck by how essential and significant his work is. Perhaps it is because I lost one of my cats today (I am catching up on my blog to give myself something to do instead of sit and cry, which I have already done today) and I am feeling quite vulnerable, but his work strikes me as being filled with the melancholy and bittersweet moments of life that are truly important.

Take a look at the fourth image down, The Discovery That Changed Everything. A lovely young woman walks her pet fox through the forest. The fox is on a leash and is obviously domesticated, and has lived its life with humans, but by chance, on a walk in the woods, the fox comes across a hole. Perhaps this hole contains another fox or a family of foxes. And this is the discovery that changes everything in their relationship forever. "But I've cared for you and given you love" says the girl. "But you never told me this is where I come from. This is the life I could have lived" says the fox. We are witness to that moment in life--we have all felt it at some point (and if you haven't, you will)--when something has happened and you realize it can't be undone and you can't go back. Ever. This might strike some as silly, but I am reminded of a line in a Fleetwood Mac song called "Sara" in which Stevie Nicks sings, "You said you'd give me light/ But you never told me about fire." The profundity (yes, pop songs can be profound) of that couplet and this illustration makes my soul ache. But Franciose's work contains moments of lightness as well. Take a look at A Peace Offering where a squirrel sweetly brings a nut to a boy in a tree or This Morning, Let Me Play A Song For You where a man intends to repay the kindness of song birds. Light, but just as profound.

Top to bottom: A Peace Offering; He Hoped It Would Reach Those He Left Behind; Just Like That, He Was Alone Again; The Discovery That Changed Everything; This Morning, Let Me Play A Song For You; With A Crippled Wing And An Able Heart

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