We absolutely fell in love with Francisco Donoso’s work during our studio visit this past Wednesday. It was well worth the trip to an old industrial building turned artist’s studio in the Bronx to learn about the artist’s career and process. Since graduating from Purchase College, SUNY with a BFA in Painting and Drawing, Francisco has been accepted to many artist residency programs in the area. In 2012 he was selected as a fellow at the New York Center for Art and Media Studies and in 2013 he was a Van Lier Fellow at Wave Hill. He has also been an Artist in Residence at Stony Brook University and named a Hot Picks artist by Smack Mellon in 2014 & 2018. Not only is Francisco a fun and genuine person to chat with about life and the art world, but he is also deeply introspective, as evidenced in his beautiful artist statement.
“I create mixed-media paintings, collages and installations of maps to explore the psychosocial odyssey of navigating the world as an immigrant. Mapping serves as a metaphor for the physical and metaphysical journeys taken in migration and the constant negotiation between placement and belonging. By pushing mapping into abstraction, I question the authority of maps as a voice of truth to reveal their absurdity, mystery and impermanence, and explore the tension between the concrete and the imaginary.
My work is heavily driven by my process, which is experimental and playful, but also delicate and tactical, cutting into the atmospheric gestures with line and blade. I create a visual push and pull that complicates the paintings and installations to feel like they might be in outer-space and underwater at the same time. I often work on the floor, pouring, layering and working the paint by hand, followed by collage and drawing. The forms, compositions and textures in the maps develop intuitively over time, and in this sense, mapping becomes a journey in itself where the image emerges over time.
As an immigrant to the US from Ecuador, and recipient of DACA, I create work from a desire to find meaning in feelings of displacement and immobility, but also imaginative freedom and hope. I want to create a space to dialogue about the possibilities of a future where the places we inhabit morph as fluidly as when we transition between them. Where borders, imposed or self-made, don’t become limits of our potential for exchange and livelihood. I’m interested in thinking about what a latinx futurism looks like mapped out in the abstractions of our collective imaginaries and how experimentation with materials like paint and paper can become the platform for an immersive meditation.”
Currently Francisco is channeling much of his effort into an installation for the New York Community Trust, a public charity and grant making foundation dedicated to improving the lives of residents in the community. The work, entitled Cut Out (Ways of Being in New York), is almost reminiscent of an archipelago of islands or even Pangea separating. Cutting shapes out of MF cardboard, he layers paint over the durable material and maps the pieces on the wall of his studio. As noted above in his artist’s statement, Francisco is questioning the authority of maps. His work pushes the viewer to examine their relationship to certain places they know when these locations take a different form. Perhaps the only piece that I could identify was the lower half of Manhattan, located on the bottom left side of the installation. Having lived in this area for years, I do have an emotional attachment to the location when it is presented in its standard form on a map. However, only after learning of the title was I able to sift through the abstract shapes for something recognizable… to find the “place” that I associate with.
Francisco has been taking advantage of his massive studio space to execute this installation as well as other large-scale, museum-sized versions of his painted maps on paper. He currently serves as the Program Administrator for the Parsons Scholars Program, allowing his to explore the intersections of art, education and social justice. His work has exhibited throughout NY, Berlin, and Miami.
Follow the artist on Instagram @fdonoso88.