Artist Francine Turk opens up her studio for a French-inspired showcase.
Fourteen years into her career as a nationally renowned artist, Francine Turk says she’s finally completely comfortable with herself — and as a result, she’s never felt more liberated. “I’m living my truth,” she says. “I’m happier now in my studio than I’ve ever been.” Fans of Turk will get to experience the veteran artist’s newfound joie de vivre firsthand Oct. 9, when she opens up her South Loop studio for the first time in five years to host “Verité: Le Salon de Paris,” a showcase of her paintings and drawings to benefit Lookingglass Theatre Company.
The Oak Lawn native, 43, admits that she’s using the opportunity to take some major risks. She became famous for her dramatic charcoal nude drawings in 2006, when set designer Dan Clancy discovered them at the Chicago Antique Market and prominently placed them in the Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Aniston flick “The Break-Up.” Since then, she’s expanded her repertoire to include stylized paintings of icons like Mick Jagger and Frida Kahlo and sketches of running stallions in muted blacks and browns. But these days, thanks to her recent epiphany, the artist is branching out in a whole new direction. “This collection is totally different from anything I’ve ever done,” she says. “I was heavily influenced by [Parisian] graffiti art. … This takes a much edgier, urban vibe, but still sophisticated.”
For Turk, embracing that new style meant letting go of the reins and accepting flaws in her work. “I didn’t want it to feel as perfect as the work I used to do,” she says. “I wanted to be free,” she says. To lose control, Turk took an unusual approach: She began painting with her left hand, giving her creations an “authentic, soulful vibe.” But devotees of Turk’s classic sketches needn’t worry. “There will be pieces representing my older body of work [at the show] — those are still part of me.”
Her freedom is apparent off the easel, as well: Although she’s based in Chicago, Turk is making frequent trips to Paris for continued inspiration and has voyages to Mexico and Spain on her docket. “I think next year might be a whole Frida Kahlo and Pablo Picasso-inspired Spanish/Mexican awakening [theme]. I’m totally feeling it,” she says. She’s also teamed back up with Clancy to work on the 2015 movie “Fathers and Daughters” (starring Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried), creating custom pieces for the Pittsburgh-based movie set. Thanks to the film, Turk can now count Seyfried among her celebrity collectors: “Amanda bought my artwork right off the set — that was really exciting,” she says.
Though Turk will continue feeding her creativity through travel and stints in Tinsel Town, she maintains that there will never be a replacement for our fair city. “My goal is to have a permanent studio in Paris, but I will absolutely always have a studio, a home and a gallery here,” she says. “What I have in Chicago is so incredibly special. It’s where I’m the most well-received, respected and loved. It will always be home for me.”
Turk’s showroom will be open to the public Friday, Oct. 10, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
In full color
“I’ve evolved as a person very much so in the last couple of years. My work is an extension of my soul — there’s no way I can deny what’s happening to me and suppress it,” Turk says of her “Verité” collection, which features pieces like “I namorata” (inset).
• “My journal/sketchbook and extra-fine black Sharpies.”
“I’m obsessed with [Chicagoan] Lukas Machnik right now. He’s an interior designer but also an artist. His work is so incredibly sophisticated and clean and well-edited; I feel like he could give Holly Hunt a run for her money.”