Archives for Frances Aviva Blane

Dark – Frances Aviva Blane opens new show at de Queeste Art gallery

DARK is the title of British artist Frances Aviva Blane’s new show at de Queeste Art gallery in Belgium although the work, at first sight, seems anything but sombre. Instead of blacks and greys Blane has updated her palette to include oranges, yellows and blues. But these paintings are not joyful or light in any way, and the timing of the show’s opening is important.

Dark, painting on canvas by Frances Aviva Blane

The date of the private view is November 11 which is the centenary of Armistice Day of the First World War and the location close to Ypres, where hundreds of thousands perished. Blane acknowledges this, though she feels any painterly response from her would be inadequate and inappropriate. However the new brighter colours she is using  have much to do with violence and shock.

“I wanted to make paintings whose mood alter on inspection. At first glance the bright colours yield joy, but on scrutiny the application of paint and calligraphic marks create unease. It’s interesting to take a beautiful colour like pink  or yellow and make it convey something not so beautiful.”

This is undoubtedly true of “dark”, a harsh yellow bombshell of a painting with churned up paint and a gouged surface. Despite an aspect of cadmium yellows and hot colours it looks sickly and rough, appearing as an afterglow of burnt out light or fire.

9/4, painting on canvas by Frances Aviva Blane

Similarly in the orange painting 9/4 the beauty of shining orange is sullied by a mass of scribble and paint drips. It is reminiscent of hospital equipment reading “terminal”. 

No Title, painting on canvas by Frances Aviva Blane

I am struck by the economy in this piece and remember Blane saying she wished to be more eloquent and use less paint. She wanted to leave “the tyranny of mess”. Largely her desire is successful and there is an agitation in the brush strokes that is never tempered, especially in painting titled No Title.

The longer I look at No Title the more I understand what she is trying to do. The few black marks on the surface look like the bare bones of  Dark which is painterly and thickly encrusted. I very much like the immediacy and fluency – it feels like a bird in flight and it’s refreshing to see so much untouched linen.

I ask Blane if it was hard to make. She admits candidly, “It wasn’t hard to make but it was very hard to leave it in this state.   I worry when something looks elegant that I’m doing interior design.”

Hospital Frances Avivia BlaneHospital, painting on canvas by Frances Aviva Blane

Dirk and Theun Vonckx have curated an exhibition which encompass many aspects of Blane’s painting. It is striking that she switches from minimalism to heavily painted  surfaces which are almost figurative. When I asked her why she has different ways of working she says she’s approaching a problem in different ways, “I don’t always want to speak in one key.”

In one room there are only monochromatic paintings and  for me this is the most powerful. Story, my favourite, is the bleakest landscape possible, a vista of black, with fine lines running nowhere, scrubbed out paint and a foiled perspective. It is reminiscent of an ancient black and white photograph left outside to disintegrate.

by Jane Dale

Dark, an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Frances Aviva Blane is at De Queeste Art Gallery Abele/Watou Belgium from November 11 to December 12, 2018.

Blane’s work can also be seen at the John Moores Painting Prize 2018 at The Walker Art Gallery Liverpool until 18 November 201

Embassy, New Book by Frances Aviva Blane Published

THE LONDON-based artist, Frances Aviva Blane has just published Embassy, her second book which follows the success of Two Faces, an exhibition at the German Ambassador’s Residence in London in which a large selection of her paintings and drawings were included this year. As well as work from the show, the book includes an essay by the leading British artist and printmaker, Tess Jaray about Blane’s work.

Frances Aviva Blane, Embassy, book, artist, abstract expressionistFail. Oil/linen, 90 x 90 cm, Courtesy of Frances Aviva Blane

In her foreward to the book, Jaray describes Blane’s emotive gestures as “painting straight from the heart to the canvas”. Blane draws and paints with alacrity but her work is not random but thoughtfully planned and, as the artist explains, “hard to make”.

Frances Aviva Blane, Embassy, book, artist, abstract expressionistHimmler Court. Acrylic/Charcoal/Khadi, 47 x 47 cm. Courtesy of Frances Aviva Blane

Blane exploits the theatrics of vivid colour as it hits the canvas with her innovative use of paint. Sometimes pink wells up in a rush of emotion and simmers under mascara streaked tears. Yellow gets spiked with black and mingles with wet globs from the tube. Blane also enjoys the limitation of working in one colour, as her big black oils demonstrate. In these, she rips, gouges and scrapes the surface until it seethes like hot tar but in others, she thins the paint to a watery drizzle like rain from heavy dark skies.


Frances Aviva Blane, Embassy, book, artist, abstract expressionistSky, [Detail]. Oil/linen, 60 x 60 cm. Courtesy of Frances Aviva Blane

An abstract expressionist artist, Blane works in an unusual way as she also draws figuratively. In these large canvases, the scrawled personalities of Blane’s heads become metaphors in paint as it breaks up. She welcomes the element of surprise as the paint drips and is allowed to take its own course. The effects of these marks can be disturbing, confrontational or plain hectic but some seem otherworldly as they deconstruct, fall and float free.

Frances Aviva Blane, Embassy, book, artist, abstract expressionistDerail. Oil/linen, 198 x 198 cm. Courtesy of Frances Aviva Blane

Frances Aviva Blane, Embassy, book, artist, abstract expressionistFebruary, [Detail]. Oil/linen, 90 x 90, Courtesy of Frances Aviva Blane

Blane is represented by the De Queeste Kunstkamers art gallery in Belgium where her drawings have been exhibited alongside work by Francis Bacon and Louise Bourgeois. Recently, her work was selected by film-maker Jordan Baseman and will be on show at Creekside Open later this year.

by Miranda Charalambous

Front page image: Heart, Oil/linen, 60 x 60 cm. Courtesy of Frances Aviva Blane











Two Faces Opens at German Ambassador’s Residence, London

ONE of the first holy fools recorded was a nun of whom the church historian Palladius writes that she pretended to be insane and possessed by evil spirits. To explain this behaviour, Palladius quoted the apostle Paul, “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise” (I Corinthians 3:19). The fool is a metaphor directed against worldly wisdom or religious dogma – not an invocation to turn into a gibbering idiot.

oil on canvas by Frances Blane
July. Frances Aviva Blane. Oil/linen (60x60cm)

In British artist Frances Aviva Blane’s latest series of mugshots in oil and charcoal, on display in Two Faces, a show of work by Blane along with paintings by Syrian poet and artist Darin Ahmad – both from refugee-backgrounds – which opened this week in London, a foolish face floats like a summons that raises the question of authenticity. These faces challenge the viewer with eyes that have stared at stars until they feared they were a million-orbed godhead. Is this foolishness of a metaphorical or real kind?

Blue head. Frances Aviva Blane Acrylic-Fabriano. 40x35 cms Blue head.  Frances Aviva Blane. Acrylic/fabriano (40x35cm)

July head Acrylic/charcoal/fabriano 40x35 cmJuly head. Frances Aviva Blane. Acrylic/charcoal/fabriano (40x35cm)

Look closely and Blane’s art contains a motif of daring. Sometimes her faces don’t have eyes and the experience they offer is unspeakable, although the playground colours and bright lights indicate an inclination to comedy. She brings to mind music-hall artistes and tumbling clowns gagging for a laugh. Her emphasis is on an over-sensorial input as insistent as the slabs of paint that lance and layer her linen surfaces.

Friend Susie charcoal/fabriano 47 x 47 cm by Frances BlaneFriend Susie. Frances Aviva Blane. Charcoal/fabriano (47x47cm)

In a charcoal drawing, her frenetic description of a landscape shoots into nothingness across the page. Elsewhere a scribbled portrait (Split Head) is faint and fearful but divided by bold orange streaks – like the schism between outer and inner. On large sun-splashed canvasses, strange, scribbled stripes embody vast spaces and yet more experiences that cannot be articulated in literal forms. But Blane makes room for deliberation and echoes the figurative with a weird mix of hopeful fondness and open hostility.

This is a selection from an artist impressively steadfast in her vision.

by Lilian Pizzichini

Front page image: July. Frances Avivia Blane. Oil linen (60x60cm)

Two Faces – a show of the works of Frances Blane and Darin Ahmad, The German Ambassador’s Residence, 34 Belgrave Square, London, SW1 please call 020 7824 1300 for opening times

Nothing: Latest Book by Artist Frances Aviva Blane Published

FAB USEBazooka (oil/linen, 60cm x 60cm, 2015) by Frances Aviva Blane included in Nothing

NOTHING, a book by London-based artist Frances Aviva Blane, has been published this week. A collection of drawings and paintings – mostly new work which has never been shown before – Nothing has an introductory essay by author Diana Souhami.

Blane is an abstract artist who works in the Expressionist tradition. Her work is currently on show in the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2015 and whose drawings were shown last year alongside work by Louise Bourgeois and Francis Bacon in a show entitled Deconstruct at De Queeste Kunstkamers art gallery in Belgium.

FAB book frontFront cover of Nothing by Frances Aviva Blane

Nothing is an assortment of new paintings and drawings mainly made this year by Blane. The book, which is produced to a very high specification, opens flat and also include details of the work. The majority of the work included in Nothing has never been exhibited or published before, apart from a couple of the drawings which were shown in Deconstruct last year.

work on paper, 15 x 21 cm.Black (Acrylic/khadi 15cm x 21cm, 2015) by Frances Aviva Blane

“The book ‘nothing’ is important to me because it’s the first time I have documentation of a group of small paintings. Usually my work is large   and gestural. However in small canvases the marks must be more contained, expressing compressed energy,” Blane says.

“I wanted someone who was not in the art world to write about this   because  their view would be refreshingly different to those of an art critic. Famous biographer Diana Souhami was open and direct in her approach – no art speak.

“Instead she writes the works ‘disconcert’, the heads are of ‘barely discernible form’ and  have ‘expression or no expression’.  Wonderfully economic descriptions.

Interior (acrylic/linen, 60cm x 60cm, 2015) by Frances Aviva Blane

“Having my thoughts in quotes, placed next to the images (which was Diana’s idea) gives a clue to future directions,” Blane continues.

“Memories of the making, and discoveries I made in the process, enable  me to disregard preconceptions and press on. What the hell.”

by Jane Dale

Nothing (Starmount Publishing), retails at £50. It is available by emailing: or