ArtDiscover speaks with Héctor Francesch, an artist capable of uniting Picasso and Playmobil.

Meeting the artist: Héctor Francesch
Barcelona - MAY 30, 2013
Somewhere between a neo-pop conception and comicbook aesthetics, we can find Héctor Francesch's art. This self taught artist, based in A Coruña (Spain), has fascinanted us since we saw his last exhibition in Galería Hartmann.

Almost a year and half later, we meet up with Francesch himself, once again in Barcelona, but this time to chat about his art, his influences and the recurrent themes in his images. With the humour and openess that his works convey, Francesch invites us to take a peek into his creative world. 

One element that stands out in your work, and surely the one you are asked about most often, are the Playmobil Clicks.

It is a recurring theme but that has gradually disappeared. There was a time when it was a main character but now they appear occasionally. The Clicks appear in my early beginnings, because I'm still at the beginning. As an artist, I started as an autodidact, I do not come from an art school or arts and crafts school. I started painting because I wanted to, because I liked it, and I started making mistakes, just like everyone else. I always say I'm from the school of error. There came a moment when I knew that if I wanted to make a carreer of this I had to have a personal work, in other words, I had to paint like Héctor Francesch, and not like another artist. So I started to look at myself and think that I liked, what I liked the most throughout my life. To be original, I returned to the origin, and one of the things that had made me happy was playing with the Clicks. Almost everything I use in my pictures are things I like. At first they were more aesthetic images and now, for some time, they are images that try to tell current stories. I use certain characters that come from the past, from childhood, of a collective memory, that tell stories that happen today and also timeless things.

I think that a good way to describe your work is 'fun'. The images you create transmit a sense of diversion to the viewer. It seems to me that for you this is very important. Do you think art should be like this?

Well, art is not unidirectional and there are many options. Obviously, there is art that has zero fun and at the same time it is a first class art and fantastic, I respect it and I love to see it and I think it must exist. Personally, I prefer irony and humour. It must be because of how I am, but I think that there are enough dramatic things in life, everyone, on a personal level, suffers bad things, or sees ugly things. I am not interested in creating pieces that are harder or more dramatic. In the end, most of my work ends up in private colections and in households. I like to send good vibes and have people coexist with me, have irony, to tell serious things with a touch of fun. Juicy aesthetics that tell something serious.
Meeting the artist: Héctor Francesch
©Héctor Francesch, Cinco músicos
As we comented earlier, the Playmobil Clicks have gradually disappeared. ¿Have you incorporated new characters or have you seen an evolution in your work?

Well, actually, there have been some new pieces, although not many. My last exhibition in the Hartmann Gallery, Pop todas partes (Pop every where), was a continuation of an earlier show that I had in A Coruña, A veces veo esto (Sometiems I see this). What I mean is that they work together or separately. It is a series that uses characters, transforming them into other things. There is hybridism, I cut heads off and place the head of one on the other. They are images typical of pop. Like the intervention of a Velasquez or a Picasso.

Regarding an evolution, I have been working for a few months now on serigraphy, because I had more or less abandoned it. Since 2008 I had edited half a dozen serigraphs. Now I have an assistant who helps me and we started producing screen prints of all paintings and had not been adapted as a serigraphy. In this way it is more affordable, something that everyone can have.

Why screen printing? 

In 2005 learned to screen print. It was a stamping technique that fit me perfectly, since I work with spot ink and screen printing is a technique where there are no halftones, it is also spot ink. It has been good because it is a way to generate work on paper, smaller and more accessible for everyone. Right now I'm creating paintings in medium and large format but not everyone can buy a large format canvas, but everyone can buy a screen print.
Meeting the artist: Héctor Francesch
©Héctor Francesch, I don´t believe in you but I believe in love
Tell us a bit about the exhibition you have as part of Jugada a 3 bandas. Does it also follow this line of work?

It is completely different, it is a typographic piece. I made the first typographic pieces during the summer of 2012 in a group show in which I participated in A Coruña related to the Comicbook Fair. The gallery I work with there did an exhibition with the comic related theme. I created a speech balloon. I have always been a comic book reader. So I did a piece thinking about the issue of the comic, without resorting to the typical pop piece. I turned to the text. That's when the typographic pieces appeared, cut out and painted. Many people do vinyl or neon, I like the typography and graphic design.

In Jugada a 3 bandas, the piece is a typography, from my handwriting. It is a piece that turns the tables on Tracey Emin's neon piece. The original says, "I don´t believe in love but I believe in you" and mine is the opposite: "I don´t believe in you but I believe in love". At the same time, this piece gives the exhibition its title.

Let's review some of your influences. You named comics, graphic design and TV culture. In the world of comics, what artists or works have influenced you?

Obviously I am not a scholar of comics, but there's a very basic thing, I've always been a Spanish comics reader. I've always liked the details of Ibáñez, suddenly you see a run over mouse in a corner or a cigarette butt, small things that end up composing the image. I like these small touches that you can have on the canvas, that can give color information and can also compose the image.

I am also an avid reader of Captain Thunder. But, in terms of composition, I believe that the greatest influence were the details of Ibáñez. I think I've incorporated it unconsciously. Another example, though it is not comic, are the drawings of the Simpsons. It is a flat drawing and it's great.
Meeting the artist: Héctor Francesch
©Héctor Francesch, Skate Donald
From graphic design, what influences would you point out?

I like masses of color, composing an image with a square, a circle, with very basic forms. Now it appears less, but before I incorporated a random square to compose the picture, connecting with Ibáñez and graphic design. Sometimes I also do graphic design work, and when I prepare a stationery, I put a detail in one corner. Really, I use the same resources. With all my pictures, I first draw them on screen. I started drawing on paper, scanning, editing. Now everything, absolutely everything, I draw it on the screen.

What kind of limitations has screen printing versus painting?

The concept of printing is different from that of painting. A screen printing can take up to 5-6 colors, a painting can have 18 colors, there is no limit. Serigraphy has more limits. Nor do I want to spend my life by printing an image and making thousands of colors because it does not need it. I think it's a challenge to make a beautiful image to 2 or 3 colors and have a good result aesthetically. Why complicate it more?If the images does not say anything, it does not matter if it has 17 inks. Its pure technique. What I always say is that screen printing and artistic sensibility have nothing in common, the supermarket bags are screen prints.
Meeting the artist: Héctor Francesch
©Héctor Francesch, El pan nuestro de cada día
What artists have influenced you?

I can take an artist like reference on discourse, in attitude towards the profession, but in terms of aesthetics, try not to look anything like that, and I prefer to look at and examine myself constantly.

I always liked graphics, I started out with this aesthetic thanks to a generation of artists that there was back in the 50, 60, 70. In A Coruña there was an artist, Luis Seoane, who worked with spot colors. Thanks to seeing his serigraphy, I began to love that mass of ink on white paper. I started painting for the pleasure of seeing this. The white paper and the ink mass and the black outline. I still have that aesthetic and still leave a lot of white. This way the are colors more colors, they have much more impact.

To wrap up, as you commented earlier, you have the habit of looking to yourself and constantly revise everything you do, which could be see as a search of new horizons. Is there a particular line of work that you would like to explore in the future?

I never know. My evolution as an artist, in my opinion, I think does not have contrasts. Sometimes I think loose pieces, such as typographic pieces, but they are things that come out spontaneously, because I feel a spark. But I think that in the paintings pieces, the evolution is constant. That is, the production from 2003 to the latest I've done, is tied, there is no real a qualitative leap in the pieces. I usually work everyday, even if not physical on the canvas but more on the preparation of the images, and that is why all the production is tied together. 

Verónica Escobar

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