In my work, the themes I am drawn to center on human folly, struggle, redemption and transcendence. Of late, an understated shade of retrofuturism has become an added feature. I don’t apply this with the bemused scepticism often associated with retrofuturist visions. Rather, I wish to reincarnate some trace of optimism about our future in echoes from the past through the idiom of old advertising slogans painted onto buildings. Unlike their mid-twentieth century counterparts, the words here convey attitudes that are stripped of the consumerism with which they would customarily be linked. Hope itself is the focus, rather than the objects of desire that we have been conditioned to expect.


Outside the patterns of daily life. Silently above the crowds, along less travelled routes, no need for pomp and celebration. With slow grace, the quiet magic descends, and with it, a visitor.


A rendez-vous with hope.

A rendez-vous with inspiration.

A rendez-vous with destiny.


In the 80s and 90s, I lived in big dirty warehouse spaces and made big dirty charcoal drawings. My stomping grounds were just outside the borders of Old Montreal on St. Maurice, King, Soeurs Grises, and William streets. Relative to today, that area was undeveloped. Walking amongst the ramshackle buildings and wide-open spaces was hauntingly beautiful, like being inside a De Chirico painting. The romanticized Hollywood representations of poor artists living in big industrial lofts with old wooden freight elevators was actually a reality then, except the living conditions were dusty, polluted and very makeshift. It was a gritty but magical couple of decades, characterized by manual labour of all kinds, just making ends meet, tattered living conditions, and a Felliniesque mix of people and events.

If I were asked to define what image would characterize the ensemble of these experiences, through the decades and into the present, it would be that life is a big unwieldy thing with many destabilizing forces at work. But if one can stay the course, there is much potential for wonder and enlightenment along the way.


A woman observes a pixelated apple in an alternative Garden of Eden. The pixelated apple, for me, is an emblem of technology. Will the allure of technology, sparkling and seductive, reward her curiosity with a dark future? The snake scales themselves, matrix-like in structure, are a kind of pixilation, creating a visual link with the digitized apple. 




All images and texts © Frank Mulvey 2016, except where otherwise credited.

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