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Francisco Donoso - Artist of the Month

Big welcome to Francisco as he joined ICC as our November Artist of the Month.


Francisco Donoso (He/Him) is a photographer based in Puerto Varas, Chile. As a child, Francisco harnessed a deep relationship with nature, leading to a photography practice that reflected on the landscapes of Chile, and his most fond memories. Photography acts as a bridge between the past and present, allowing memories to be captured or disrupted. There is also an interactive component to it as all of Francisco’s subjects define the outcome of the photo in some way. They all beat to a rhythm of their own stories and the nature around them.


As we explore three of Francisco’s photographic series we will review the collection roots, organic materials, and documentary photographs that he uses to develop these striking images and narratives.


Forms of Oblivion


"In the earth dwell wounds. Of men, women, the living and the dead."

The forms of oblivion 01

digital Photography

2020

50x 80 cm


‘Forms of Oblivion’ is a series of wet plate collodion photographs that delve into Francisco’s exploration of memory, particularly a part that he refers to as oblivion. These images present an eerie acceptance of our existence facing the inexorable dimension of oblivion. So although we face this moment ourselves, photographic records bypass it by preserving an interpretation of the subject matter.


The forms of oblivion 03

Ambrotype

2020

60 x 40 cm


This sense or feeling of bypassing oblivion by preserving ourselves through photography can also be seen as a ‘suspension’ of oblivion. What happens to the photograph of ‘our essence’ when it’s lost? Or buried beneath the rubble of a decaying world? As Francisco said, this process is inevitable and the photograph only delays it.



The forms of oblivion 04, 2019

Print intervened with ground

60 x 40 cm


This piece is exemplarily of the suspended oblivion process. We can see how the spaces and world around this person have started to fade into oblivion, but that act has been halted by preservation of this photograph.



the forms of oblivion 05, 2019

leaf over prints

60x 90 cm


Francisco’s process includes imagining a parallel in astrophotography (photography or imaging of astronomical objects, celestial events, and areas of the night sky) and the act of observing the death of a star. Witnessing the demise of something as grand as a star triggers a reminder of how small and finite our individual lives are.


Like one leaf from a tree, we grow into the world and decay back into it, furthering the cycle of this cosmic universe until a new leaf grows again.



Inmemorial



Inmemorial 1, 2013

Digital

60 x 40 cm


Our next selection of work focuses on the landscapes of Chile, specifically bringing out mystical and folklore-esque parts of the land. In some ways the series is ambivalent as this first piece isn’t as mystical as it is sublime. The foggy atmosphere and distant, lone wanderer, set the tone of a very cryptic tale to come.


Inmemorial 2 – 2013

Digital

60 x 40 cm


A photograph so clear and transcendent that it feels like it could have come from a fairy tale. There is no fog in this image but the consistent toning of Francisco’s images in this series imply a continuation of the same space.



Inemmorial 3 - 2013

Digital

60 x90 cm


Inmemorial (Immemorial in English and the title of this series) means ‘longer than anyone can remember.’ While thinking about the constructs of time and reflecting on our concept of oblivion, we should also consider how oblivion comes into play with nature. Here we have two generations standing ahead of a massive piece of driftwood - an object that has provided shelter to many animals and persisted throughout time. It’s likely that the lifespan of these two men don’t surpass that of the wood. It’s rate of decay, eventual oblivion, is much longer than the average human being – it will live longer than anyone can remember.


De Lo Primigenio



De lo primigenio 1/ of the Primal - 2015

Digital

90 x 90 cm


In this last series of Francisco’s work, we begin to see something more experimental – fitting as this series is titled ‘De Lo Primigenio,’ which roughly translates to ‘Of the Primal.’ In some ways this part of Francisco’s photography and subject matter is in its evolution stage.


De lo primigenio 02 / of the primal, 2015

Digital

90 x 70 cm


Ideals of sublime seem to resonate throughout Francisco’s practice as again here we can’t entirely understand what we are seeing. While looking at this piece we can find gaping mouths, distorted and elongated limbs, and smooth pale skin. Upon first glance it feels extra-terrestrial, perhaps tied to his research in astrophotography.



De lo Primigenio 03/ of the primal, 2015

Digital

120 x 90 cm


Our last piece of Francisco’s work encapsulates the month of his photography into one piece. As previously mentioned, there is again a sense of the sublime as darkness encompasses the shipwreck in the center. Oblivion also closes in on this landscape and lone horse as the entire piece is also surrounded by white dots. One might say these are stars, as the cosmic translation of oblivion comes to take over what is rightfully theirs.


Many thanks to Francisco for allowing us this month to delve deep into his practice. His work has encouraged us to delve deeper into our own memories and the perspectives in which we consume space.




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