Napkin boys
Drawings, cut paper
50 x 70 cm
2009

Once again the Napkin Boys series shows Carlos Franklin’s desire to take drawing beyond the simple use of pencil and paper. With his previous work, Elegance, he used human hair to represent stitching. With Napkin Boys, the artist appropriates another craft: paper cutting, which had existed since the invention of paper more that two thousand years ago. In the beginning it was a woman’s, and especially a young lady’s, occupation. It was never considered more than domestic work, like embroidery or cooking, until craftsmen adopted it and gave it the value of art.

Ever-sensitive to the female condition, which inspired the title of one of his films, Carlos Franklin engages with the roles normally assigned to the housewife stitching, cooking and paper cutting. In this series the images are taken from websites used by gay men to meet one another. Self-portraits furtively taken on a web-cam or with a camera at arm’s length are the means these men use to display themselves. With meticulous cutting these are raised up to the level of icons and remind us of the religious character historically associated with this technique. They are forbidden images, not because of their nature but where they come from. They are given a new significance by being captured on paper. Unknown faces are drawn by out by the gaps of light reflected between the wall and the picture frame. The forms arrange themselves around the emptiness.

The Napkin Boys remind us literally of the napkin beneath our knives and forks. On a mono-tone background, in diptych or polyptych, people looking for love or sex are taken from their solitude and revealed in a purely decorative and graphic manner.

Louise Bernatowiez & Richard Neyroud