Esoteric Artist Featured at Florence Biennale

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 21, 2013 — 3 Comments

In the modern art world, the traditional gallery system that many of us feel we know from popular media depictions has slowly given way to an ever-expanding series of international art fairs and biennials where the high-rollers buy, sell, discover new work, and hob-nob. These large-scale events have become the place to gain attention, so it is notable that the upcoming Florence Biennial in Italy will be featuring the work of Mexican artist Cristina Francov.

"El Trìgono de las Lesiones" by Cristina Francov.

“El Trìgono de las Lesiones” by Cristina Francov.

“Cristina Francov is a Mexican artist whose work offers visions and allegories through a series of self-portraits and transfigurations of her own body.

Her early fascination with both esoteric mysteries and the great European masters developed into a form of hybrid digital photography which is humanistic, mysterious and carnal all at once. Cristina is entirely self taught in the art of photography but an academic foundation in the methods of oil painting and drawing mixed with her natural talent led her to become recognised both nationally and internationally for her contribution to the art of digital manipulation (she has exhibited in London, Germany and Italy alongside several solo shows in Mexico).

Cristina’s ‘El Trìgono de las Lesiones’ has been selected for this year’s Florence Biennale (Italy, November 30th Cristina’s work, international audiences will be given the opportunity to better understand an artistic movement which is only now gaining the attention and historical recognition it deserves.”

In her artist’s statement, Francov describes the work as “a soul, lost between two dimensions,” that “uses the remains of birds, minerals and flesh to materialize itself on the Earth plane. Confused and doubtful of its existence and potential humanity, is unable to naturalize and accept itself into one single creature.” 

Francov is part of a larger resurgence of occult, esoteric, and folkloric themed works within the fine art world. Allison Meier at Hyperallergic notes that the “undercurrent of the occult in culture ripples back to the surface of our collective consciousness” and that we are enjoying high point in “a periodic surge in fascination with the unknowable, the rites, rituals, and art that make up its history.” Certainly, Pam Grossman’s excellent blog Phantasmaphile is clear evidence of this renewed interest, as it reports on and reviews a growing number of artists and exhibitions that focus on esoteric subjects. Grossman is also an associate editor of the journal Abraxas, which spotlights many of these artists, including Francov, and whose parent company Fulgur Esoterica represents the artist.

"El Trìgono de las Lesiones" (detail) by Cristina Francov.

“El Trìgono de las Lesiones” (detail) by Cristina Francov.

Cristina Francov’s inclusion in the Florence Biennial follows the well-received I:MAGE exhibition in London which focused on occult and esoteric art, and the high-profile showing of Lady Frieda Harris’ Thoth Deck paintings at the Venice Biennale. When I spoke with Abraxas co-founder Christina Oakley Harrington during the I:MAGE exhibition, she expressed that the time had come for this kind of art to break through to a broader audience.

“The art world is waking up to the inner realities of its artists, and to the fact that for many centuries, right through modernism, many artists have been profoundly influenced by esoteric ideas and have worked intimately through (and with) occult symbolism. Medieval art history includes the study of iconography and symbolic programmes, but artists of more recent centuries have received no such attention, until the past ten years.  Even the surrealists, some of whose work is profoundly occult, have had their imagery largely overlooked or treated in solely personal terms.

The trends of 20th century art-history and art criticism meant there have been 80 years of writing on art which concentrates not on the inner experience of the artist, or of their symbolic language, but rather on form and materials. This is now changing, and it is very exciting indeed.”

Cristina Francov

Cristina Francov

Change within culture begins when we change the way we look at the world, when we shift the lens of our experience. The rise of artists like Cristina Francov shift perceptions, and enrich our encounters with subtle realms. This trend within the world of art is one that we should embrace, and one that should push more of us towards a new level of excellence in our creative output. You can see more of Francov’s work at her official website. A limited number of prints of “El Trìgono de las Lesiones” are available at the Fulgur Esoterica website. The Florence Biennial will run from November 30th through December 8th, 2013.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Cory Hutcheson

    I’m very glad to see the occult art scene taking off this way (and also happy to see journals like Abraxas leading the way). I am very much hoping this will lead to an interest in/resurgence of some of the occult art that has either not gotten much notice or has been largely forgotten. I would love to see some of Robert Mapplethorpe’s esoteric pieces show up in gallery exhibitions, for example. If I remember correctly, there’s an exhibition of witchcraft-themed art being shown at the Scottish National Gallery, as well. Here’s hoping this is a wave that gains momentum in the art world (and other cultural genres as well…I’d love to see a rebirth of occult literary fiction similar to what happened in the early 20th century, for example).

  • Elissa Rich

    This is true, a lot of art criticism tends toward formalism, although within the past 30 years or so has included feminist, or communist, or other ways of looking at art. Still, looking at art in *context* (its place in history, how it was inspired, the life of the artist, etc.) is just as important as analyzing style, materials, and method, and I’m glad that the inclusion of more esoteric or occult art is generating more criticism that actually looks at a painting’s symbolism as well. It should happen more often: art is not made within a vacuum.

  • Carrie Viscome Skinner

    As an Pagan artist this all comes as good news. Now if this idea would seep into the general public and help us lesser known artists to get more attention that would be really great. What a lot of people don’t seem to understand is that real professional quality art can be acquired by anyone, you just have to find some artist that is not necessarily in the upper crust of the art world and support him/her by buying their art. If you’re interested in doing that one place to look is Fine Art America. Do a search on faerie or witch or some other occult theme and see what you can find. Deviant Art is also a good place.