Gabriel Toso
He Who Loves – He Is One of Us
London, September 2011

[more texts about Franko B can be found at www.franko-b.com/text.htm]

I still remember the first time I saw Franko B. It was in a book illustrated with photos taken during one of his live performances. Franko was naked, covered with bodily fluids. Jaded, ready to drop. Towering next to him like an amused crane was a girl dressed as a nurse; or as a patient. The caption that accompanied the image was taken from Eroticism by the once described “metaphysician of evil”, Georges Bataille “Man must be aware of the things which repel him most violently – those things….are part of our nature”. I was 19 years old and confused. But inquisitive too….

That first visual encounter with the artist is still vivid in my mind, but the reason for it took a while to decipher. It was not the disturbing elements of the image, no, but rather the tender gaze, the amorous gestures and the fragile body. A mass of gentle emotions wrapping my mind, like a caress.

And now, fifteen year later, I know the man behind that photo and that gentleness is still present and alive. Indeed, having peeped inside the world of Franko B, I am wondering how can it be described as ‘disturbing’ - unless we find disturbing our own feelings. Franko’s work is a reflection of our emotional states. And yet, we find it initially difficult to relate to it. It employs the same alphabet but the language appears different. But is it really? Art critics, art journalists and the public at large have the tendency to think of artists as something different. Messianic and godlike or evil and immoral. Or just plain different. They are different than us, right? And then it hit me. Franko B, the visual artist and performer, is not a special entity or a frightening creature of dark fairy tales. Franko B is a man. He is made of flesh and bones, and has a heart and a soul. He sleeps and breathes, he eats and drinks, he walks and speaks, he pisses and shits, he cries and laughs, he fucks, he loves. Franko B is like me, like us. Franko B is one of us.

I remember Franko recently taking part in a conversation with a renowned art historian/book writer, a kind of vicious ferret. The guy was more interested in his own work (and Ego) than Franko’s. At the end he reluctantly asked: “Your canvases, your sculptures, your performances…..your work and life…..why? What is all about?” Silence. And then Franko, with a serious smile, “It is all about relationships”. That hit me again. His words resonated and expanded embracing and wrapping together with a gentle cuddle all of us in the audience. Travelling further, to the rest of the world. Relationships….

Even more recently I was conversing with Franko over dinner. The subject focused on Existentialism. The Big Questions. The condition of human existence and the meaning or purpose of life. At some point Franko B with clarity and conviction announced “ Because of love, that’s why we are here”. Silence. And then it hit me again. Franko B, the man and the artist, loves. All his work is about love. No the kind of spiritual love lost in remote deserts or the physical sensual love consumed in cities but Love as the pure generative universal energy that creates, preserves and destroys everything. It’s the love from one human being to another. And to the rest of the World. It’s the love that encompasses everything. As the arrival of Spring awakes in us the instinctive realisation of the passing of time and the returning swallow announces its love for the season and the land, so Franko’s work is a constant reminder of the eternal truth of Love. And Franko B loves. The words of Thomas à Kempis come to mind “Love flies, runs, and rejoices; it is free and nothing can hold it back….

Gabriel Toso