Joshua Liner Gallery is pleased to present Fireland, an exhibition of new paintings and works on paper by the British artist Ian Francis. This is Francis’ first one-man show at the gallery and marks his solo debut in New York.
Working in mixed media on canvas, Ian Francis combines abstraction, figuration, and elements of both painting and drawing to create distinctly contemporary works. His robust approach uses a range of techniques including acrylic, oil, charcoal, ink and graphite, all deployed in a spontaneous, seemingly off-the-cuff manner. Below this active “surface,” however, are subtle notes of melancholy, alienation and social critique, revealing a nuanced regard for contemporary mores.
Francis draws inspiration and raw material from cinema, pornography, street culture, and images sampled from the Internet, synthesizing these sources into a quasi-literal vision of the “mediated” landscape. Among the exhibition’s mixed-media paintings and selection of works on paper, a number depict urban street life and the complex interactions that occur when random souls collide. Amid high-color washes and jagged brushwork, youthful figures have a reckoning on park steps in A Boy Returns Home Not Realizing How Much He’s Changed. The cityscape is fragmented and unsettling in Walking Down a Street a Person is Crushed by Light, a poignant work that intimates the hardships faced by the elderly and other vulnerable beings among urban dwellers.
Elsewhere, a Japanese soft-porn princess makes an appearance in Anri Sugihara Three Seconds, a closeup portrait created from multiple perspectives over time. It’s a play on Sugihara’s own coquettish updating of the “fan dance” in her erotic YouTube videos. In other works, Francis depicts semi-clad female figures who loll and mix in casual groupings—some scenes are intimate, others hedonistic. These figures are recognizable as the young and beautiful denizens of media fantasies fueled by sex, death, and celebrity.
In these and other works, abstraction and figuration mutually support the artist’s suggestion of a worldview where the incongruities of modern urban life—violence and style, wealth and poverty, beauty and the grotesque—cannot help but intersect.
Ian Francis was born in 1979 in Bristol, UK, where he received a BA from University of the West of England and continues to live and work. Solo exhibitions include: Exodus, Lazarides Gallery, London (2010); Semi-Permanent, Kinsey/DesForges, Sydney, Australia (2009); Together Forever, Kinsey/DesForges, Los Angeles (2008); and Super Coma Fantasy, BLK/MRKT Gallery, Los Angeles (2007). Selected group exhibitions include: Summer Group Exhibition, Joshua Liner Gallery, New York (2010); and The Outsiders, Lazarides Gallery, Newcastle and other locations (2007–09).
Ian Francis ‘Fireland’ Opening Photos (March 8, 2011)
Ian Francis featured in American Art Collector Magazine (February 23, 2011)