For three months, Kamil Franko lived completely alone in a small vacant house by the Danube river in Budapest, trying, like so many artists before him, to explore new depths of creativity through personal solitude. “Some funny things happen when you stay alone. Some half-crazy, some sense,” the Copenhagen based-painter explains.
His first show in the United States inaugurates New Release Gallery, a former VHS video rental space that, after sitting abandoned for 15 years in Chinatown in New York City, has been revamped by Erin Goldberger. Now, thousands of miles away from the cabin and surrounded by more people than he’s seen in months, Franko brings himself, and his multi-textural figurative paintings, out of hiding. “A lot of things got clarified in this process,” the artist explains, “These paintings have gone through stages, and a new door opened.”
The name of the show, Love and Violence, speaks to the juxtaposition between the images of soft abstract nudes paired with the dark hardness of drones and technology, but also between the emotions you feel when you are truly alone. “I think painting now can be bleak,” says Goldberger, who also works as the director of Half Gallery uptown. “Artists can make an aesthetically nice looking piece but only have quick sand to stand on to back it up. Kamil's work gives us a feeling of friction; slight tippage. When you stand in front of a Michael Heizer sculpture and you feel the weight of the rock crushing your body, it just stands there, staring. Maybe mocking. A slight seam on the side reminding you of your connection to and weakness against the materials that live among us.”
Inside the small gallery, as friends and members of downtown art scene celebrate the coming out of a promising artist and opening of a new staple in the art world, it’s hard to imagine this painter, or his paintings, having ever been so removed. Looking at these works it’s clear that this trip was not about forcing loneliness, but indulging in what happens in those rare times of being alone. “You start to listen to silence “ he says, “and you begin to have the capacity to do what you feel is right.”
Kamil Franko's Love and Violence will be on display until November 7th at New Release Gallery, 60 Mulberry Street, New York, NY.