The Victorian gothic aesthetic lurks in every line of Victoria Francés’ artwork, breathing life into the dark, detailed background reminiscent of Dracula’s crypt, or the sinister glitter of Phantom of the Opera. Vampires mourn their lost humanity. Sirens attempt to save drowning humans with consequences quite unlike The Little Mermaid. Witches come into their full power under a dark sky. Melancholia pervades the Spanish-born artist’s work, portraying an adventure or love story with a tragic ending.
Francés isn’t one for mysteries and interpretation. Dark romanticism permeates each piece in all its glory–a combination of insanity, agonized beauty, and mourning weave together beside the Renaissance and Victorian backdrop. Attention to each fold of drapery, the grit of tombstones, the menacing twist of a copse of trees bring each piece to life, and dropping architectural noteworthies such as Venice’s Bridge of Sighs elucidates a historical edge. These are moments from our world, our past, and as ever, magic and the unknown await around every corner.
Pre-Raphaelite poses further entrench each piece, evoking a pure moment of sadness, ecstasy, or horror. Sharp, precise details erase any notion of fighting against the reality of the supernatural and the power of ancient magic. Here among us walk the ghosts and the ghouls, the murderers and the mad. Like a choose-your-own-adventure novel, Francés presents a lush scene that begs the viewer to sit down with pen and paper, ink and canvas, and create what they think happens next.
The narrative of loss controls much of the imagery. Ophelia-like women weep and flee from encroaching madness, or give into the otherworldly creatures who have transformed them into creatures of the night. Dark colors of gray, black, and dirty white build a poetic world full of Edgar Allan Poe poets and penny dreadfuls, of alchemy and sorcery, yet flashes of rich color indicate a spark of passion still exists in such a shadowy world.
Beyond the artwork of her popular Favole series, Victoria Francés has also published stories. Ocean’s Lament follows the tale of a love-struck mermaid who helps a young cabin boy fleeing from the Black Death. Her Misty Circus series is for a younger audience, exploring witchcraft and the dark appeal of circus life. A recently released tarot deck brings more of Francés’ work to the forefront. Other projects loom on the horizon for Francés, such as a new universe called MandrakMoors, and working on book covers and with band artists to bring her artwork to new venues.
All images owned by Victoria Francés.