The paintings and prints of Staten Island native Lauralee Franco induce viewers to believe that we all lead two lives. One is external and physical, tethered to a grid of determinacy; the other is internal, expressive, animistic. Franco’s work is known for pivoting between these two metaphysical extremes, creating from the intertwining of both decidedly composite tendencies that emphasize either figuration or a movement toward abstraction.
Intimacy lies at the foundation of Franco’s artistry. When engaging in figuration, it might be represented in the form of a child, or a coupling suggestive of the matrilineal bond that unites a mother to her daughter. In her more abstract compositions, this sensation of intimacy is still present, but distilled into formal relationships expressive of a sinuous unity, where earthen tones seem to embrace their own dissolution as the materiality of paint cleaves to the substrate of canvas.
The expressive character of Franco’s artistry enters into her figurative paintings like an ulterior life. Often taking rural or suburban landscapes as her theme, she makes the logic of perception malleable. Utilizing an array of materials and techniques—oil paints, pencils, charcoal, found objects—she tends to view her artistic practice as delving into the obscure depths of American life. Nevertheless, the affective tone of her work adheres to the high seriousness of 20th century modernism, pioneered by European painters in both abstract and expressionist traditions.
The celebration of femininity functions as the cornerstone for Franco’s artistic expression. At the same time, her works portray an unguarded rawness only hinted at by the 20th century canon. Ultimately, Franco’s paintings are not underserved by being compared to Soutine-like compositions, where the distortion of distance, or the unnerving proximity of space, corresponds to some lurking portent only suggested by the actual contours and dimensions of the perceived environment.