Through the windowpane

Isobel Francisco looks at her life away from herself

“I have been watching my life. It’s right there. I keep scratching at it, trying to get into it. I can’t.” This quote form Mad Men Season 2 struck Isobel Francisco, making her realize that she’s been looking at herself through the windowpane that she unconsciously built while enduring the pandemic. 

“These past years since Covid have separated me not just from other people but also from myself, intimates Isobel. “I feel like I can no longer let myself back in because I’ve become a stranger, I no longer have the house keys, and the most I can do is look through the window and wonder if there’s a gap for me to crawl through.”

Isobel’s latest exhibit at Metro Gallery, “Windowpane,” is infused with these feelings of the melancholia, longing, and sadness of the past years. The common feature of her collection is the image of a woman, her hair covering her face while she is drowning in her thoughts, thinking of what to do next, all throughout the day. Playing with time, Isobel named these pieces Daybreak, AM, and PM.

“I was more frantic this round, because my goal this year and last was to finish works, period. I was unable to do anything at the height of the pandemic due to lockdowns, two flooding incidents, and increased anxiety,” says Isobel. “Anything I could finish and wrap up was a personal victory. I made a lot more pieces that I decided in the end I wouldn’t include in the final lineup. There are more variations in the process this time, but I always started with the color blue.” 

And blue was what everyone felt when they looked at her pieces at the exhibit. “People were asking me if I’m doing okay after they saw ‘Windowpane,’” says Isobel. She expressed everything she felt using palette knives, sweeping it through the surface with colors, putting on layers and layers of color to create texture and feeling on the piece.

“My personal favorite is Maps, something I’ve always wanted to do,” says Isobel. “A lot of the pieces that didn’t make it to the show are also paintings of my fingerprints. They remind me that, sometimes, I may be looking into things too closely or intently,” she says.

Isobel’s windowpane did not only resonate with her life but the viewers as well. As we experience what seems to be an endless pandemic for the first time, we were all put inside with no choice but to look life through the window and that separated us from the world we used to know, from the things we used to know, and from ourselves.

The Metro Gallery is at San Juan, Metro Manila.