Les Yeux Fermés (Eyes Closed)

“I wanted to see something fresh. How do I make a drawing I haven’t seen before? The only way to do that is to close your eyes,” said artist Jim Franklin about his latest series of acrylic paintings.

Franklin created a collection of self portraits which speak to inner vision as much as the act of looking.

The South Austin artist, who signs his name JFKLN, has been sketching himself with his eyes closed for twenty years. The technique inspired Franklin to start painting his self portraits and has produced some surprising results. “I was astonished when I opened my eyes by how well everything fell together.”

“Each drawing has a different mood, a different expression,” Franklin said as he flipped through a sketchbook in front of him. “The more I do, the more that comes out. I’m discovering this is not just an exercise… as if any drawing is ‘just an exercise.’”

“This is a key part of making art, and understanding that and tapping into that is exciting as hell for me because each drawing is something I haven’t seen before,” he said, describing the theory behind his new pieces. “Intelligence is not just in the head, it’s in every cell of the body. What I think I’m tapping into is how much there is going on without the eye being in the dominant position of control.”

Franklin’s work has also led him to think about architecture. “You paint paintings on the wall and sooner or later, you’re going to see the wall and start thinking, what are you going to do with the wall?”

Specifically, he has been considering “architecture without cubism.” Franklin said he uses these concepts when he creates his paintings. “I don’t build my faces with cubes,” he said. “The cube doesn’t occur in nature. We impose it on nature.”

“Dream space is the only space not cubical. You go to sleep on a cushion with a pillow and you’re in this space, and as soon as you wake up, you open your eyes and you’re in a box,” he said.

“We adhere to cubism so thoroughly because of the convenience of construction,” he continued. “We have these arbitrary forms that are not related to our body, but they are designed to house our body.”

Franklin believes more natural curves and shapes should be used in the creation of spaces.

“We make houses to house our body, so why not make them so they’re sympathetic to the shape of our body?” he said. “I’ve always said, Americans ordered a house and they couldn’t figure out what it was, so they threw it away and moved into the crate.”

Franklin has been in the Austin art scene since 1965. He is well-known for his music posters and for being the main poster artist for the Armadillo World Headquarters. His work can be seen at the His work can be seen at the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture.

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