John H. Franklin

My paintings combine the ceremonial with the personal. In recent years, my love of fabrics has become integral to expressing an intimate emotional and materially physical component in my art. The work is additionally influenced by my early interest in heraldry and its system of visual symbols defining family, tribe and class. Most recently in my paintings on wood panel I use a variety of colors of 100% wool felt often punctured with holes or cutouts, wrapped with satin ribbons, portions of appropriated articles of clothing. Occasionally I’ll use hides or skins that can be viewed as stand-ins for “clothing”.

The surfaces of my paintings appear quite firm at a distance, though upon closer inspection, the felt, silk or satin ribbons add elements of softness, suppleness and sensuality to the minimal hard-edge painting. The fabrics lend additional dimensions to the paintings by referencing clothing as related to the human body. The recent paintings are conceptual portraits, or a kind of zoom in or detail, focusing instead on a close up of a person’s essence as decorated and protected by their clothing.

I wish to express my interest in bodily protection, domestic fabric patterns, well-tailored craft, fashion, design and decoration. I am fascinated by the dilemma of push and pull that clothing and fashions present, simultaneously revealing and concealing, in how clothes can invite touch and delineate a kind of separation. Though my art embodies concepts that are both soft and hard, intimate and distant, I endeavor to expresses both the joys of life in tandem with the inevitability of suffering and sadness as relates to our shared human existence. Invariably I aspire to make paintings that come down on the side of hope and promise while acknowledging personal fears, struggles and desires, proclaiming the beauty and bounty inherent in life.