Nine Tales of Meetings, 2012. Tale seven, Sphynx. A woman with cancelled eyes and a laceration running down the center of her chest within which hangs a key, holds open her cloak so that the mysteries of her greater self may not be concealed. They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but in this work there are no eyes, instead the opened chest cavity allows us to look deep within. The key signifying that the core of her being is not physical but psychological, or perhaps spiritual. Interestingly, the key does not hang over her body, but hangs within the wound. The door has been unlocked and we may see into the secret inner self of this woman. We are not concerned with what we see of the woman, but what we don’t see.
In the artwork of Cristina Francov the concept of monism is divided visually and the shadow self expands beyond form, showing the mind, body, and spirit as one being. In the Nine Tales of Meetings, Francov has manifested nine threshold guardians to the nine gates of the metaphysical realm—in other words, your shadow self. The nine gates are entitled Nature, Emanation 1, Emanation 2, Abandonment, Wealth, Consciousness, Sphynx, Microcosm, and Eternity. This series is haunted by mystical spirits floating through ethereal spaces. Many of the spirits do not have complete physical forms, but only the head, arms, or chest. It is therefore relevant that their clothing not only serve as a vehicle to carry their spirit so that we may see them, but also to reflect the idea that we are more than the physical body, and that we have a greater “spirit” within that wears this flesh like a shroud.
This contrast of deeper spirit[ual] meaning is symbolized throughout the series. In the fifth tale, Wealth, there are three faceless women adorned in rich colorful silks holding treasure chests filled with jewels. Then there is a fourth woman in black with a flaming skull over her head, holding an empty treasure chest. Inferring that the true wealth offered in life is not that of luxury, but the illuminating knowledge from within one’s own mind. The flame within the skull becomes less grotesque if one understands it to be symbolic of the illumination of the shadow self.
In mystical literature an elemental principle is, ‘as above so below’. One meaning of this saying is that there is the microcosmic individual who is a representation of the macrocosmic universe. Within that context I would say that Cristina Francov’s work shows the relationship between the individual’s shadow self and the universal shadow self. Because in the logic of mysticism, if the individual has a shadow, then so does the universe. Like the Sphynx painting, we can open up the chest of anything and find a key to unlock the greater mysteries of that particular object or situation. But remember, the key to the chest is inside the chest.
Illumination is also a theme within this series. From the first tale, nature’s hand is raised in a blessing. In tales one and two the presence of the sun and moon illuminate the space from above. In the fourth tale there is a spot of light that illuminates the space outside the folds of the fabric. In tale five, it was the flame and skull, and in tale six it is the valley of stars illuminating the dark canopy of the night sky. The key in Sphynx is the source of enlightenment. In tale eight, Microcosm, it is the encompassing of the individual and the cosmos, symbolized by what appears to be the orbits of planets going around the hands of a woman. Lastly, in tale nine, an Egyptian influenced depiction of a two headed woman with mirror likeness, stands within the eclipse of a dark sphere and a light sphere. When viewing the Nine Tales of Meetings take notice of the use of spheres and circles in each work.
Cristina Francov’s work is appreciated by students of esoteric philosophy or anyone initiated into a mystery school, as the paintings and photography are filled with esoteric symbolism. But one does not have to be initiated to enter the mysteries of her artwork. The beauty of such surrealism is that the objects and symbols incorporated within the work might seem senseless and absurd to some, trigger deep impulses within the subconscious mind. The paintings work to stir up the spirits that are within. I wouldn’t say that Francov is waging psychological warfare by assaulting the subconscious mind, but I would say that her work is a torchlight to enlighten the dark corners of one’s psyche.
We tend to think of diversity as separation, but in the works of Cristina Francov we often see the relationships between counterparts or the layers of one’s self. In the painting, Spirits Weaving a Nexus, two otherworldly women weave the dream of a sleeping woman. Not only does Francov personify the dream process, she also shows a relationship between the ethereal and physical realm, both of which operate with conscious intelligent intention. What some might consider balance between the light and the dark, or the above and the below, or the right hand path and the left hand path, good and bad, male and female, might also be thought of as suspension.
In paintings such as Nunca te voy a perdonar (I’ll Never Forgive) or El banquete magnetic (The Magnetic Banquet) spirits hover above sleeping persons. The dream state in which the person lies is manifested by the spirit floating above them. In Divinity Trespasses the Abyss and Visitation, Francov depicts the experience of two worlds that cross over each other. And the work which first drew me to Cristina Francov’s brilliance was Efectos del Cosmos (Effects of Cosmos) from the Temples of Ether Series portrays the sacred relationship between the cosmos and the individual. And yet it is not just the cosmos that has an influence on us, we also have an influence on the cosmos. In Sembradores de Estrellas (Sowers of Stars) a human hand holds a universe by a string. This divine hand reoccurs throughout her work and might also represent the hand of the Creator.
Born in Aguascalientes, Mexico, the self-taught artist enhanced her skills by obtaining a degree in graphic design in 2011, and has since then exhibited in Mexico, and various collective shows around the world. Cristina has also been published in several magazines and art journals. Aside from her multimedia art she also has a graphic design company, Tria Signa, from which she has been commissioned for photo sessions, and as a designer for film posters and music album artwork. And of course her clientele is just as interesting as her subject matter, working with music bands such as the neo-Medieval music group Octopulso and goth metal band El Cuervo de Poe.
The works of Cristina Francov are dark but brilliant in colour, dreamlike in the way refined images dissolve into washes of colors. Cristina is a realist of cerebral abstraction. Surrealism, expressionism, impressionism, and symbolism are all infused within her style. She generates psychological and spiritual archetypes into modern forms through photography, photo manipulation, painting, and drawing. Whereas lowbrow and pop surrealism portrays the demise of modern culture, Cristina’s work depicts the resurrection of the universal individual.