Artist exploring humanity in the disregarded, merging historical fragments with architectural principles, crafting new meaning with profound and analytical work

Content © Francisca Prieto. Written permission required for ALL use of images or texts.

I am interested in crafting tales from history's fragments, to pass on our past to future generations. Merging aesthetics and research, I explore meaning and humanity.

Anti Series
2002 - 2003

Alongside Printed Matter, the Anti Series further reacts against the way in which we read, measure and live in time. Francisca Prieto pushes against the cemented roles type plays day-to-day, pulling at the seams that have bound print since Gutenberg’s invention of the printing process in the first half of the fifteenth century. It is said that could Gutenberg see today’s typefaces, the characters may well be unrecognisable to him, yet today’s lettering has remained the same for generations.

Line, space and how our eyes read are all subverted in the Anti Series: reimagined in the context of their contemporary and taken-for-granted recognition. Each work challenges, ingenious in both invention and its ability to mischievously disrupt our preconceived points of view.

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Between Folds
2009 - 2015

Francisca Prieto’s Between Folds series uncovers the beauty and hidden detail of forgotten print. Representing carefully collected material – old and damaged books, discarded ephemera, hand-printed receipts, timeworn publications – these three-dimensional works explore pages that can no longer tell their story. Each work is constructed through a considered and mathematical process and it is through this reorganisation that Francisca Prieto conveys new meaning and expression.

The composition of each work depends on the material itself, its original purpose or ideas fundamental to the unfolding of its new narrative. Celebrating design, illustration and the unread text of many writers gone by, these works expand on their makers’ ideals. Up close, through windows of folds, unseen detail is revealed; from afar, shadows of colour create pattern and shape, with telling symbols inverted across the compositions.

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Denied
2022 - ongoing

The Denied series is a commentary on the silenced narrative of women, on the historical denial of women to reach their full potential due to patriarchal constraints. Prieto uses collected objects of the past, understatedly arresting in their beauty and craftsmanship, their chipped metalwork or well-handled surfaces conjuring images of past hands. These objects of action and purpose are immobilised, suspended in an entrapment that represents the invisible cages in which women have found themselves across history. Each metal bar illustrates the barriers put between women and their aspirations, lines of control and denial.

Prieto carefully creates a purposeful frame which imprisons the object in mid-air, hovering on the brink of action, it mirrors the frustration felt by women as their own actions have been halted by imposed roles, society and the patriarchy. Yet women have always been determined, as these objects are to break free; a small part always succeed in escaping the cage. For despite their obstructions, women will continue to push through the barriers, albeit an inch at a time.

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Intrinsic Dimension
2015 - 2016

“The notion of the picture as the product of painting… is being replaced by the experience of spatial construction” (The Line by A. Rodchenko, 1921). Intrinsic Dimension is a series of twelve compositions that explore and visualise the 1921 thesis by the Russian artist Aleksandr Rodchenko. He advocates the abandonment of figurative art on a quest for a new kind of painting; one where the artist’s invention relies on the construction of material. Francisca Prieto brings a new dimension to the canvas by materialising the line and using it to build.

Suspending old card railway tickets, she creates waves of colour with fragments of distance travelled. Lines, Rodchenko’s skeleton of construction, become suggestive indications of narrative and emotion, as intensities of visual texture and colour are ordered as paint applied. Contrast comes in angles and movement, as the works change depending on our perspective or viewpoint. Rippling with the singularity of every ticket, every line carries us on our own journey, creating the character for each of the multilayered artworks.

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Printed Matter
2002 - 2008

The Printed Matter series began Francisca Prieto’s investigation of print, starting with the crux of communication – the characters we use to express any word or message. Breaking down the lines of typographical characters, meaning is celebrated for its form, abstracting the shapes of these figures curious yet perfunctory flicks, curves and flourishes.

Type’s personality is felt through its familiarity, so when these recognisable symbols are split, adjoined and turned on their head, the results are playful and stylised – questioning our own oblivious acceptance of the way things ought to be or read.

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Reminiscence
2016 - 2020

In this series Francisca Prieto captures the very individual and remembered sense of place. Visualising the intangible architecture of the mind, she shows our ability to conjure both physical and emotional memory to form a space. As a moment etches an impression on our mind, drawing in surrounding colour and light, these works present place from the eyes of the beholder. Treated metal and collected coloured tickets form the light and shadow of recollection – paper trails of many journeys long forgotten.

In perhaps what is Francisca Prieto’s most personal series, these works reveal the artist’s own memories. Some are specific to place – London or Cuba – others hint at a feeling, but as images pass through the mind, indistinguishable, fleeting, yet full of suggestion and sentiment, these frames reminisce an individual’s moment in time.

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Traces of Absence
2015 - ongoing

Traces of Absence continues Francisca Prieto’s ongoing endeavour to re-enliven the power of forgotten print. Pages of found and collected papers – selected for their poignancy in both beauty and sentiment – are folded, yet unlike Between Folds, they do not dominate the canvas alone. Line and space have been brought into the frame for their potential to respond and transcend the page. With metal leaves and lines– polished, burned or treated to form gleaming and various colours – Francisca Prieto creates a new language from which to echo ideas.

Pointed lines create openings and shadows, breathing space for the depth and significance of printed detail. Furthering each hidden message or discarded ideal, these traces are heightened, lifted in presence from the page. With each continued moment or empty shape created, we are reminded of what is absent; spaces left from a transient world. These works invite us to stop and look; finding new and magnificent meaning in what others have left behind.

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Underlined
2013 - 2014

In Underlined Francisca Prieto presents the line, using both its form and meaning to inspire each work. The line has endless expressions: it divides, measures and joins; it slices apart and binds together, forming the most intrinsic and universal typographical symbols. Francisca Prieto abstracts eight of these recognisable linear forms and invites us to enjoy them for the simplicity of their composition. Enlarged and carefully constructed with discarded but specially selected ephemera, each is a given a space that leaves their obvious value forgotten.

Whereas Francisca Prieto previously sought and exposed the beauty of forgotten ephemera, building from the page, in Underlined she begins with the structure, allowing the construction of the line to govern her choice of material. These works present a shift in the powerful play between the component and its parts; material becomes subordinate to composition and is made to work towards the communication of its explored meaning.

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Utopian Symbols
2013 - 2015

Marking one hundred years since the Russian Revolution, Utopian Symbols abstracts three letters of the Russian alphabet, using each to explore and symbolise a key artistic ideal of the period: Constructivism; graphic revolution; reconstruction. Detaching each from their typographical meaning, the characters are built with poignant and historical print, as well as – for the first time – the sharp and industrial edge of metal. Pairing metal and paper, these works harness the Russian spirit of reinvention and revolution.

In the spirit of constructivist architect Yakov Chernikov, type and function are separated, reworked into a concept that betrays narrative beyond the reading of words. Each letter reads multi-directionally, as the Russian futurists wanted their books to be read, becoming a reflection of its investigation, independent of the words they could be made to form. The constructivists saw their artists as engineers and, with this mathematically-guided triptych, Francisca Prieto applies their values to the evolution of her own work.

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