Frank Cole

Right In the Eye


Frank D. Cole lives and works in Oakland. Born and raised in Mississippi, the storytelling traditions of the South still play major role in the artist’s interest in the relationship between narrative and visual images. The dramatic chiaroscuro in his paintings works together with the sense of touch left for the viewer by his handling of the paint to leave us with the feeling that something has been recounted for us. The raconteur’s distinctive style lingers in the finished work.

In 1995 Cole started work on what turned out to be a group of 60 paintings eventually titled Right In The Eye,now assembled by the artist in a specific arrangement for the Smith Cardiovascular Research Building at UCSF. They were based on small figures in the background of one of his larger paintings called The Twins at 11:11 pm.He spent a year working on them and in their turn they functioned as seed images for much of his figurative work over the next few years: they were a type of vocabulary for me. The overriding theme is the ancient and ongoing relationship between humans and animals, from cave paintings to pet shops.

Right in the Eye maps out the basic elements from which Cole builds allegories and arrangements for his next body of work. Hanging near the entrance to one of the Smith Building’s many state-of-the-art laboratories, we might even think of this set of paintings like a highly subjective periodic table for Cole’s narrative impulse. Arranging and organizing the human and animal characters would allow him more efficient access in choosing the right components for future experimentation.

Titles for all 60 paintings are as follows: Top row: Elephant, Boxer, Good Dog, Man with Glasses, Woman Waiting, Crow, Suzana, Trained Seal, Wild Woman, Joan of Arc #1, Opossum, Prehistoric Fish, Eye Witness/Preacher, Sleeper, Making Fire, Ostrish Feet, Monkey’s Paw, Lover Boy, Mocking Bird Second Row:Wing, Sister, Bull, Grandfather, Bear, Morning, Rooster, Joan of Arc, Elephant Foot, Her Sleazy Old Boyfriend, Greek Horse, Seated Boy, Bear’s Claw, Baby Boy, Party Girl, Viking, Stag, My Left Foot, Side Winder, Girlfriend Bottom Row: Susana #2: Tintoretto, Antelope, Curtain Call, Thug, Pike, Mother Pregnant, Bull #2, Wolf/Canine, Worker, Home Run, Wild Dog, Wild Horse, End of the Day, Spy, Grizzly, Accuse, Ostrich, Turtle, Bad Boy Two on adjacent column: Job/Old Testament, Gator