“Hapenis” by Franz Szony @ Project 1 : SF : CA

John Felix Arnold III • Jul 10, 12 • Art, Events, media, NewsNo Comments

Wednesday, July 11th @ Project 1, 251 Rhode Island  San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 938-7173  http://p1sf.com/

Wednesday, July 11th at Brooke Waterhouse’s Project 1 space in San Francisco, a brilliant and visually complex artist is unveiling a mixed media solo show for the masses to witness.  “Hapenis”, a solo exhibition of photographs by Franz Szony. Described as a “photographic painter” or “character portraitist”, Szony transcends traditional photography in order to open windows into a lush, seductive, and intricately detailed world of fantasy and dreams where his seductive imagery fuses the classical with the modern, and depicts baroque aesthetics with a bizarre twist.

Szony’s work explores the intention and meaning behind beauty, evoking a mythical, archetypical atmosphere that has the potential to summon a meditative, imaginative, and even transcendental state of mind. Many of the photographs find their direct inspiration from Szony’s dreams, which he keeps meticulously logged in a dream diary. “The worlds and characters I’ve dreamt have inspired both minute details, as well as entire works of art, both aesthetically and emotionally. ”

Franz explains that, while most people consider themselves unconscious while sleeping, many philosophies teach that we are, in fact, more conscious while asleep than while awake… “If so, I can’t help but think our dreams to be more real and truthful than the physical world.”

Hapenis is a thought provoking, provocative, and comical collection of Szony’s most androgynous and abstract pieces and also serves as the title of the show’s statement photograph. He brings his wildly whimsical visions to life by photographing carefully composed theatrical tableaus complete with elaborate costumes and sets. The dreamlike results are richly symbolic and powerfully charged with nostalgia, with implied narratives that delve deep beyond the surface.

“…because that we are all connected, our dreams and thoughts are not solely exclusive, they are transcendental… My intent is to contribute to the universal language.  Art.”

Franz Szony was born and raised in Reno, Nevada, where he began studying art at age 6 and had his first solo gallery exhibit at age 12. After studying Fashion Illustration at San Francisco’s Academy of Art, he returned to Reno in 2007, where his desire to depict his concepts more believably led him to digital photography. Szony’s Art has shown at several galleries and he has photographed advertisements for The Great Reno Balloon Race, The Nevada Opera and The Nevada Ballet, LMFAO’s Fashion for Philanthropy show, and Dada Las Vegas. Szony has also transformed a vacant building in Reno into a gallery space known as the “Mood Museum”. Franz is currently based in Reno Nevada with expectations of opening a photography studio in Los Angeles or Las Vegas within the next year.

I was contacted by their press people and found the work so well executed and bizarre that I wanted to know about the process and composed some interview questions.

ArtNow- So how did you development through the techincal side of your craft come to inform your fantasy world that is depicted?

Franz-  When I first began photography, I worked in a very “old fashioned” way.  I shot film and lit all my models with theatrical par-cans.  After developing them, I would hand-tint and cut apart the images like paper dolls,  compositing a more elaborate scene, held together with tape and cardboard, that I would re-photograph to create an image which fit the fantasy I envisioned.  Eventually my ideas became too complex for a loupe and scissors, and I switched to digital photography, which gave me the freedom to create without restrictions.  Although my technique is more modern than my aesthetic, I hold true to my original ideas of creating photography with an illustrators approach.

ArtNow- Please explain where and when this fascination with the Baroque came into play in your life?

Franz – My parents cultured me very well, and gave me the priceless gift of seeing almost every famous museum from Paris to Rome by the time I was 12.  Since I was still at a young age, baroque aesthetics became a part of my conscience and imagination, even before I really understood what I was admiring.

ArtNow – The ornamentalism of the Baroque is such a specific reference i feel one has to fully immerse ones self in its aesthetics and design thinking. How  do you plan to move forward in the use of this sort of refernece forward in regards to your place in art history?

Franz – Baroque and Rococo aesthetics are magical to me.  In one way they are completely organic and flowing, while in another they are highly structured and balanced.  I try to take this same perspective by creating images that are reminiscent of another time, yet strangely modern… a balance between the classical and the bizarre.  Baroque is grandeur and elegance without a limit,  so moving forward with this reference as inspiration is boundless.

ArtNow - Please explain the the way your images are composed for the viewer who may be lost in trying to figure it out.

Franz – Although I tend to focus my subject from the center and work outwards,  not all of my pieces follow this composition.  I would tell a viewer to start at the face of the character in the image, read it, slowly follow their body,  what does it say?  As  you branch off the main character, follow an imaginary pyramid in the photograph and look for the symbolism in the world that surrounds them.  I avoid relief space for a reason.  Get lost in the photograph, and focus on each element,  if it is too much, enjoy the haze.

ArtNow- What have you been reading, listening to as of late and during the creation of this work?

Franz – I listen to almost nothing but orchestral soundtracks as I work.  A great amount of Les Baxter and vintage jazz recordings.  For my last piece I listed to the haunting score of “Perfume,” and harpsichord renditions of Tchaikovsky on repeat for weeks.  Whenever I need some beat, Enigma and Amon Tobin do the trick.  I don’t read much during the creation of my work, but  I’ve read a bit of Eckhart Tolle over the last couple months…..and a quick but amazing read by Leslie M.M. Blume called “Lets Bring Back.”

ArtNow - Please give us a brief explanation of what you wish for the viewer to take away from your show.

Franz – I’ve had the rare experience, only a few times in my life, of looking at a piece of art, and feeling as if I had seen it before, or I had been there at one point.  Its a very peculiar but warming feeling, and the image is personally nostalgic to me , even if I have never seen it before.  I hope the viewer can read each photograph like a story and relate to the same feelings I’ve experienced.  Think of it as compelled deja vu.

Well thank you Franz.  Your work is something else! – Interview conducted by JFA III for ArtNowSF

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