FRANK JANCA – AN APPRECIATION
By Jeffrey W Andersen
Director of the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme Connecticut since 1976
Frank Janca is an artist whose work draws upon his highly developed personal sensitivity toward nature and from his study of the classical tradition of the Old Masters. The artist’s approach to his subject, acquired from over thirty years of painting, is marked by careful study, acute observation, and a particular kind of passion for the physicality of paint and the play of light that animate and illuminate his landscapes, still lifes, and portraits.
Although born in Maryland, Janca grew up in Biloxi, Mississippi before leaving as a young man for ew York City to study at the Art Students League (where he worked with Robert Beverly Hale and David Leffel) and the School of Visual Arts. But Janca has moved in artistic directions that set him apart from all but a few of his contemporaries. Janca insists on grinding pigments by hand, cooking his own oil mediums, and underpainting his carefully prepared and gessoed Belgium linen canvases with grisaille much as artists had done for centuries before commercially prepared paints became available in the mid-19th century. And all this before applying his paint to canvas! This kind of disciplined effort, in and of itself, would be an academic exercise without bringing the kind of talent and artistry that Frank Janca brings to his subject.
The artist’s appreciation for the use of light and shadow found in the works of Velasquez and other Baroque masters of the 17th century have led him to focus on similar concerns in his own work. ‘Velasquez composed the light so beautifully that he makes you see more colors than he’s actually put down,” Janca explains. “Designing the light in the painting is my first concern.” This is readily apparent in his still lifes in which objects are enveloped in a warm luminosity that brings out the contrasting surfaces, forms and textures of the vases, teapots, figurines, fruits and flowers that are sensitively arranged for the eye to slowly play across the spaces they inhabit.
1975-1980 – Art Students League of New York, New York City, NY
Frank Janca was an assistant to painter David Leffel and Gregory O’Alessio (drawing) at the Art Students League where he won the George Bridgeman Scholarship and was runner-up for the Prix de Rome.
1977-1978 – School of Visual Arts, New York, NY
Instructor: Harvey Dinnerstein