One of the first things that people ask for when interviewing an artist (or when applying for a commission), is their “artist statement”. And I knew that this was a major block that I had when I was starting, knowing that I was just figuring out who I was, not just as an artist, but also as a person. I have read through a lot of how-to’s on the subject, but to no avail – the first few statements I created did not come out as authentic.
You see, I grew up in a society where who I truly am was not nourished nor valued. As “trophy kids” or achievers, we were raised to specifically bring pride and prestige to our families through university degrees, awards, academic distinctions and, inevitably, a titled job (in my case, as an architect). But no matter how much I accomplished, it felt empty, even depressing. These are all hollow accomplishments that never really touches one’s true self.
This is where art, and being an artist, comes into the picture. For me, it is not just about the romantic notions of Michaelangelo or Da Vinci’s creative endeavours. For me, with a fragile sense of self that I had, this was refuge, this was salvation, this was my truth.
Art connected me to who I was inside. This was made clearer with my own experiences with Ayahuasca and other consciousness-expanding substances. In my psychedelic journeys, I found that inner being that was kept asleep. And through a whole tug-of-war of emotional recovery, I found that it was in art that I have a voice to express who I truly was. It is in art that I found myself. Art was the one thing that I wasn’t trained in growing up, when I reflect on it, and I have always grown up having an innate confidence and sureness in the art that I create.
And how beautiful it was to, in these experiences where my consciousness was opened, that I have found a bigger realization. My journeys have shown me that it is in beauty that we have a glimpse of enlightenment. All neurotic thoughts dissipate when we are awe-struck on seeing beauty, may it be in nature or in artistic creations. It is in art that every one of experiences release and emotional repose.
I have seen that my life was no longer just about self-centered, empty endeavours. I was given a peek into the bigger universe where I and everyone else are connected harmoniously, in beautiful, calm serenity. By painting and writing about them, I am given the privilege to share this amazing, and inevitably healing, journey to people.
This is my true artist’s statement, and my artistic mission.
Francis graduated cum laude as an an architect, and has since worked in a world Top 100 architectural firm, as well as in the Brussels EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Asian) innnovation hub of one the world's leading brands. He is also a visual artist (with commissions for the HSE), interior and graphic designer, and dabbles in fashion and millinery. Art and design, he says, can be very healing and restorative, and will always tell a story - and this is part of his creative ethos.