The Nicaraguan painter Franck de las Mercedes (1972) shows from this Friday, in a very personal exhibition, memories of his childhood, experiences of the New York that welcomed him in his childhood and his point of view on the political situation in his country. A sample in which bright colors have great prominence.
“Essentialisms and self-discovery” —on display at the Boricua College gallery in the Bronx until April 30— consists of 33 works, beginning with those of his childhood in Nicaragua with his grandmother and mother, in what that the artist calls “a journey in the shadow” of that childhood in Masaya, in which the father figure was missing, according to what the artist told Efe.
“It is a very personal work, a journey into the shadows of my childhood, delving into what beings are and exploring with that being,” he says, explaining that although he has always painted abstractly, he wanted to “explore and call demons by his name”, those “who persecute me, who scare me” throughout his life.
He recalled that he comes from a country where he lived through war and saw death, and survived the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua in the 1980s.
“My perspective has always stayed there, it affected me a lot, I remember everything. That’s where all those voices come from, which I wanted to paint in a representative way. Get out of the abstract to tell this, ”he indicated.
Among the works of his childhood, based on family photos, are “Proceso” and “Pan Blanco” (as they called him for having lighter skin than others in his family) in which his mother and grandmother are and with whom he remembers the absence of a father figure since he was 4 years old.
“The women also represent the matriarchs of each family who stayed fighting and facing everything that was happening” in the country, comments De las Mercedes, who in her piece “Unruly Fashion” portrays the image of her adolescence “in which one think invincible.”
With “Two Lands”, which captures a woman carrying her twin sons, she wanted to represent the cultural duality of the two countries in which she has spent her life: Nicaragua and the United States.
“I always say that I was born in Nicaragua but I grew up in the US and that’s what I wanted to show” with this work, the artist also indicated, who was nurtured by the art of graffiti and New York artists and who in this exhibition dedicates a work to the painter of the Jean-Michel Basquiat counterculture, in which a skeleton walks under a radiant sun, near a palm tree.
The walls of New York where there were once signs of which only pieces remain also inspired De las Merdeces, as well as the poem “Lo fatal” —the name of one of his paintings— by the Nicaraguan Rubén Darío and which talks about pain, a word that was present in his childhood.
“Happy the tree, which is barely sensitive, and more so the hard stone because it no longer feels, because there is no greater pain than the pain of being alive or greater sorrow than conscious life,” he said, recalling a stanza.
Family separation is another theme present in a group of works that are part of this exhibition, with figures of gypsies, and in which his grandmother is once again.
“It’s about when the emigrants are very eager to see each other, but that space that they spent apart changes the dynamics that we had in a relationship and they make us emotional gypsies,” he also told Efe when taking a tour of his work.
The situation that Nicaragua is experiencing under the government of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, also have space in their art with “Peace and Unity”, a protest against violence and human rights violations in their country and its title refers to the phrase that Ortega and Murillo repeat to the people.
In the image, Murillo’s arm stands out, with its characteristic bracelets, embracing the Guardabarranco, Nicaragua’s national bird, and, above it, the face of Daniel Ortega with a fang in his tongue, devouring the bird.