Santa Clara-based artist Francisco (Pancho) Jiménez explores the elusiveness of dreams and memory joining together molded forms in unlikely combinations, Jiménez transforms kitsch elements into complex pieces with a rich and relevant focus. The juxtaposition of shapes in his sculptures may at first seem haphazard, but is intentionally crafted to mimic the illusiveness of memory as it advances and recedes over time.
After spending the first half of his career creating meticulously carved ceramic sculptures adorned with geometric forms, Jiménez, who is a senior lecturer at Santa Clara University, was forced to develop a new method of working following a repetitive motion injury. Shifting to an additive rather than reductive process, Jiménez began repurposing commercial ceramic molds, originally used to make decorative objects such as figurines, tchotchkes, and holiday decorations. He simultaneously adopted a new, more contemporary visual vocabulary that changed the character of his work.
The Memory Series draws on the dense carved textures of the organic and geometric designs and hieroglyphs found in ancient works of art. Utilizing contemporary imagery mined from commercial ceramic molds often employed in the decorative arts, I recontextualizes this imagery to suggest a vocabulary that is both familiar and mysterious. Melting into one another, these images suggest a dreamlike state in which images, like ideas and emotions, come in and out of focus. Embedded in this series are a group of pieces I have titled Biographies. In this work I consider, more specifically, the individual. In these pieces, I imagine who these individuals are and what events, concerns, experiences, and memories may have shaped them. In addition I have utilized these molds in what I call the Weapons series. Here I incorporate the molds on weapons to reflect on violence and those who are impacted by it.
Influenced by pre-Columbian Olmec heads, the Bust Series explores the possibilities of portraiture. While portraiture traditionally documents the individual characteristics of a sitter, in this work I explore collective, or universal, identity. Depicted without features, these heads and bodies suggest diverse psychological states in a deeply compelling way. To achieve this, I employ a wide range of surface textures and colors
I am intrigued by the mystery of meaning that I find in ancient art, much of it in ruins, found in Mexico. In this work I attempt to capture that mystery, that “eternal presence” of ancient art forms, which elicit particular emotions in me that may be universal and timeless. My intention is to create art forms that bring the eternal presence of the past to the present, to inspire reflection on contemporary time and place. A branch of this series is the column series. Applying my concerns to large columnar forms and exploring the influence of scale on these concerns.
Work with Industry
In this body of work I applied the concerns from my carved series to large, commercially produced ceramic chimney flue liners. Working directly with Mission Clay Products, who graciously gove me access to their San Antonio Texas plant, I spent a few years utilizing their technology and large scale production capabilities to produce a series of monumental clay pieces.