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How Kingston’s Francisco Corbett is leading a new generation of young artists

Since launching last fall, CBC Ottawa’s Kingston pop-up Bureau has set out to tell the stories of the city and create connections within the community.

Local artist Francisco Corbett has been making his mark on the city through his colorful street style paintings and mixed media creations. Below, he shares what it means to be part of a new generation of Kingston artists and the inspiration behind a custom mural he painted for CBC Ottawa and the Kingston Frontenac Public Library.

How Kingston’s Francisco Corbett is leading a new generation of young artists

Local artist Francisco Corbett has been making his mark on the city through his colorful street style paintings and mixed media creations. 3:03

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

How did you get into art and become a creator?

I saw a Jean-Michel Basquiat show when I was 15 years old at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Basquiat’s art made sense to me and made me believe I could do it too. I should add though, I have always been infatuated by street art and graffiti. Mainly the artist Banksy, which led me to first pick up a can of spray paint which would then lead to the paintbrush.

What is your primary art medium?

I paint large scale acrylic paintings. I like experimenting with different ways of applying paint to canvas, using water to keep the paint wet as I move it over the canvas. In recent years I have applied performance art to my medium of painting. This allows me to follow process over product, and dance with the canvas as the piece of performance art unfolds.

How would you describe your style / art philosophy?

My style is unique to me, it’s like a fingerprint. When people see my work they see me first. My philosophy is quantity over quality because quantity leads to quality. Practice makes perfect.

Francisco Corbett says he takes inspiration from a range of artists from Banksy to Basquiat. (Submitted)

Can you explain the thought process behind the custom piece that you created for the CBC Ottawa x KFPL collaboration?

Constance Intounas and I are very similar, she has a warm, uplifting energy. She has helped me when I’m down. I love her. So getting a chance to work with her on this project was a no-brainer. We both had a near identical vision for the painting, so over the 5 days it took to make the work, the process was easy, fun, and loving. We wanted the piece to express that – a warm sunny evening in downtown Kingston filled with rich colors and loving scenery.

Artist Francisco Corbett and Artist Constance Intounas unveil the art piece during CBC Day in Kingston in Kingston, Ontario on Thursday April 21, 2022. (Lars Hagberg/CBC)

What have you been working on lately?

I have been working on this CBC commission for the last week. I recently had one of my first art shows I’ve had in 2 years and am doing a run of art shows this summer in Kingston & Toronto. I always have new ideas emerging and new products dropping.

How did growing up in Kingston help shape you as a person and an artist?

There didn’t used to be a lot of youth driven art in Kingston. It passes from generation to generation and eventually loses steam naturally. Kingston has always kept its doors open for classic art, non-risky art. If they have a space for that they will open a space for us. Kingston didn’t have much so I added to the landscape.

What inspired you to start the art collective ForWorld Studios in your hometown?

I started ForWorld Studios because we needed a space for non-conventional artists to shine through, to be heard and to be taken seriously. Being in the collective and managing it from the inside with the others present challenges, like any six-way relationship would. Overall, the collective is based on respect for each other’s work and a hard focus on the independent artist first.

What would you tell the next generation of creators coming up in Kingston and beyond?

If they tell you you can’t do it, prove them wrong.

The CBC Kingston pop-up bureau, led by CBC journalist Michelle Allan, launched in November 2021 and since has produced several stories such as:

  • Eastern Ontario short-staffed hospitals because of COVID-19 spread
  • Queen’s review of policies on Indigenous identity claims rife with issues, say critics
  • sleeping cabins for Kingston’s homeless fall short, critics say
  • Kingston, Ontario, has a profound doctor shortage. Here’s why.
  • Red tape keeps dying Kingston, Ont., man from getting care, daughter says
  • Pandemic presses Kingston’s need for social housing solutions
  • After 14 years, boil water advisory lifted for most in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory
  • Historic tavern in Kingston, Ont, sold to Toronto condo broker

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