Frank M. Alba regards the numinous scenarios portrayed in his work as the visual manifestation of introjected traumas. His subject-matter tends to consolidate nostalgia, tragedy, and the impetus toward personal fulfillment and growth all within the frame of a single image. Painting enigmatic, otherworldly landscapes, where space is translated into emotional distance, Alba’s works are the afterimages of spiritual catharsis.
In their genesis, Alba’s paintings begin with an image; as he develops a canvas, it comes to reflect the meditative energy of the thought process that gave rise to it. Working for the most part with acrylics, the unique texturing created by his application of paint allows pigmented layers to build up, the cumulative effect of which feels less like a chiaroscuro of light and shade than a palimpsest where echoes of the past affect the quality of light preserved on the canvas.
Because architecture generally functions as the substrate in relation to which his renderings of the human figure are starkly placed, the nuances of spatial relationships—the symbolism implied by, say, being situated at a “higher” or “lower” elevation in relation to another figure, who thereby becomes “larger” or “smaller”—takes on a richly connotative meaning, becoming not merely descriptive but dramatic. The shadowy, mosaic-like colorations Alba works into his paintings, which condense different temporalities into a single visual moment, emphasizes the ambiguity of his themes.
Alba’s works revel in surreal distortions in scale, and often portray vulnerablelooking figures against an ominous backdrop—a diminishing perspective receding into a seemingly infinite landscape. What this imparts to his works is an overlapping sense of uncanniness and urgency. Viewers feel as though they were looking through a window onto the denouement of a bad dream. This nod towards the macabre, where a painted image can suggest some grave event without portraying anything overtly violent, is a hallmark of Alba’s style, which provokes thought viscerally by drawing from images floating darkly before the mind’s eye, using bold colors and, on occasion, the intimation of controversial themes, as a vehicle for spiritual catharsis.