“ I know the art of Daniel Franca as if it was ancient, despite his young age. I know him for obvious reasons: he is a friend’s son. But I also know him for other reasons not so obvious: Since the very first time I saw his art, it puzzled me the way only great Art can do. It was telling me something, something that I wasn’t able to describe. There was something about his paintings that invited me to watch and try to understand.

I have seen some of his paintings, just a few, in small exhibitions and others in photographs or through the Internet (although he doesn’t like showing his work through photographs) and there was always this puzzlement. It was the same puzzlement I felt when I visited the museum of Cuenca for the very first time and I was puzzled by the works of Zobel, Millares, Mompó, Saura and so many others. It is that kind of puzzlement that makes you think, and I have thought about Daniel Franca many times. What can an image of the Virgin Mary during a procession tell me? Processions and images of the virgin don’t tell me anything. And what about a landscape? It’s really hard for me to stop and admire a painting of a landscape, even if it is beautiful. What style could I use to classify his work? He certainly has style, it’s his own style. Despite his young age, he doesn’t need to sign his work. You only need to glance at one of his paintings to know they belong to him. It has been difficult to get rid of this puzzlement.

According to Javier Gomá, in his magnificent essay “Imitation and Experience”, until modernity, art and thought conformed to the conceptual sketch of the relationship between the model and the copy, first from nature and then from “ideas”. It is the modernity that breaks the mould. The individual doesn’t copy, he recreates. The modern individual is not yet complete; the individual is free and creates himself, and therefore, the art is the expression of that unique, free and changeable subjectivity. Art is far away from that perfect copy of a reality that, whether eternal or fixed, aims to become one through the work of art.

I suppose that, as an artist, Daniel aspires to Eternity (or to “remain” as modernists would call it). Instead, what he wants is to make time eternal, the changeable time, the future, the time of Heraclitus, of Nietzsche, of Bergerson. But not the cosmological time, not even the ontological time, but the human time and its brevity. That is the part of his works that puzzle me, and what it’s clearly shown in his last exhibition, “Lost Light”.

It seems that Daniel is not interested in the past, the present or even the future (any of which could be in a picture). It seems that he is searching for passage of time, the inevitable flow of time, and it is this kind of time that becomes the main subject of his work. He paints the time; he materializes it without stopping it. For me, that’s his greatest achievement.

His motives are the works of man. He paints urban sceneries, which can only appreciate in the passage of time. Natural landscapes, which are subjected to geological time, are eternal to the human eye. But the human work is subjected to human time; it’s part of our history.

In this game of presence and absence in his work, the present is always bitten, harmed by the past. It seems as though it is warning us from a better past that has been damaged by the passage of time. As well, it looks forward to a future that won’t be better, but instead it will be bitten, even more damaged. His motives are decadent, because he wants to show the decadence itself. He seems to be aware that the human things are not a possession but a loss, and that this loss is an essential part of the human life and that some sort of apex is just an illusion.

This is another reason for my puzzlement. What does this 28-year-old “kid” have in mind? The absences of these paintings are just as suggestive as the presences. The sky is only shown through the light it projects or through the absence of light, in the darkness or through a poorly weathered day.

Weather is eternally changeable to the human eye, which is why it is present in his work through the light and its effects. It is the cause for damage to human work. The “bad weather” speeds up the damage, as do decadences such as sea and its saltpeter (also eternally changeable). The proximity to the sea is another example of absence/presence of this exhibition. You can sense his presence in the architecture of the houses, the way they rise to move away as a form of protection from the sea and her actions. And you can also sense the presence the light of a stormy day with that wind that blows from the shore.

The man, the human figure, is another great absence/presence in his works. He says that the man from his paintings is the one that is outside, looking in at them. He is the one who is outside and looks, but also looks at himself, and at the human work and at what time does to both. If he is there, he is veiled, like the crowd surrounding the already mentioned procession of the Virgin Mary like a sketch, like an abstract man that changes. Maybe it’s because one is not the same anymore, because change in man is faster than in his work. There is little permanence in men. Maybe if he was actually still it would be through his paintings, and completely still in his absence.

I would like to say that Daniel Franca reconciles me with realism the way Barceló did it with the figurative art. But I’m not completely sure we can define Daniel’s work as realism, but I’m also not sure we can define Barceló’s work as figurative. ”