In line with the Yellow Ribbon Project, we are very pleased to share about a very special artist Mr. Frankie and his works.

Why would a man who spent a total of more than 20 years in jail be inspired to draw individuals who constructed society’s status quo? If Frankie’s jail term was necessitated by the line of the law- affirmed by society’s status quo who toed the line- then does it not make sense that Frankie was bitter and rebellious against the successful in society? We all assume that a prisoner’s behavior is one of deviance and defiance, don’t we?


But Frankie speaks of yi qi (integrity and fidelity to self) and he knows that he always will be loyal to those who are friends. Lamenting the loss of yi qi and the apparently impersonal and mechanical tone which many relationships today take, Frankie says he sometimes find it hard to respect and be inspired by today’s younger generation.


Hence the subject of his drawings.


The message in Frankie’s paintings is a cry for the younger generation to look up to the successful in society; to consider and learn about their successes and how they did it. In the artist’s own words, he chose the people he drew because they were “the victors in society”. Frankie respects and admires these individuals because they have negotiated the ups and downs of life and have emerged successful. More than just their stories, Frankie feels that it is important that we discern and see the value of the attitudes they have adopted and to internalize its essences.


Brought up as a shoe-shine boy who was taught to pickpocket in order to earn his daily meal, stealing was the only route to survival Frankie knew as a boy. He accepts that the jail-terms he got as deserved consequences of the deeds he performed but saw little alternative to earning a living. As such, Frankie neither apologies nor regrets the things he has done, but hopes that the generation today will grow to be successful people with soul.


Having been diagnosed with cancer as he turns 58 this year, Frankie has returned to art and wants to perfect his skill. This collection of 153 drawings were done over the course of the last 5 years spent in jail and were based on photographs found in the daily papers. These pictures were Frankie’s windows to the world, and the outlets through which he gazed upon these individuals on their pedestals.


In order to complete these drawings, Frankie painstakingly hand-ground charcoal and pencil lead with the stick of a paintbrush before using cloth to spread the mix over paper. Charcoal was used as the pigment remained blacker for longer on paper while several shades of pencil lead were used in order to get the shades which he required for his drawings. Frankie’s determination to get the tones right is evidenced by the fact that he had to remove the wood around the pencil lead by hand before beginning work.


For every single piece drawn, Frankie insisted on sketching upon a grid which was also drawn on the photograph from which he copied so that proportions would be exact and so that the completed product would be as life-like as possible. Compromise for detail is never an option for this man for whom fidelity reigns.


Immortalizing personalities through his drawings, Frankie hopes to find his way out of the intricacies of life through the threads borrowed from the subjects he depicts and their stories.

Frankie’s collection will be available at FORTH Gallery. His Commissioned Works are at S$300 each for a portrait, Or learn to drawn from him for more inquiries call: 62227809 email:sales@forth.sg