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 Mark Francis  (1962 - )

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: abstractions of cellular clusters

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Mark Francis
from Auction House Records.
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Mark Francis was born in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, 1962. He studied at St. Martins School of Art 1981-85 and Chelsea School of Art 1985-86. His first one-person exhibition was at Thumb Gallery, London 1990. Since 1994 he has had regular one-person shows at Maureen Paley Interim Art London and at the Kerlin Gallery Dublin. In 1995 he was included in John Moores 19 and he was a member of the jury for John Moores 21, 1999. Recent group shows have included 'Sensation' Royal Academy 1997, 'Shifting Ground: Fifty Years of Irish Art' IMMA Dublin 2000 and 'Irish Art Now: From the Poetic to the Political' Chicago Cultural Center 2000.

Mark Francis first became known in the early 1990s for his paintings of magnified cells and microbes. His paintings are based on "scientific images of microbiology - such as bacteria and cells - and he produces the final works with a smooth wet-on-wet style. His paintings are usually monochromatic descriptions of cellular clusters, scattered within the parameters of large-scale canvases. The individual cells are softly painted and seem to float just beneath the picture plane. This softness removes the stronger clinical connotations, allowing the paintings to become highly tactile objects as well as powerful abstract images. The paintings draw out the consequent ambiguity of enlarging such a tiny area of space, to the point where the scale makes the pictorial elements artificial and dominating."

As an emerging artist he took part in 1995 at 'The Adventure of Painting' of the Kunstverein Düsseldorf/Stuttgart and at the 'Sensation Young British Artists' der Saatchi Gallery in 1997. His work is characterized by a wet-on-wet technique that is also employed by Gerhard Richter and by his continuous use of grid shapes. Works of his are in the possession of the collections of numerous institutions and organizations, such as the Irish Museum of Modern Art and Tate Gallery.

Francis has combined two contradictory elements: the coldness of scientific investigation and the seductive qualities of photo realist painting. The painted surface is invariably immaculate. Francis uses blurring to add three-dimensional structure and movement to the images. Francis' paintings blend the intuitive repetition used in process painting, the historical concern of abstraction and the painterly luminosity of Photo Realism.


Public Art Development Trust: Mark Francis/Nicky Hirst, 1997
IMMA/Glenn Dimplex Artists Award, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland, 1996
Grand Prize: Tokyo International Print Exhibition, 1993


British Council, London
Deutsche Bank, Germany
Goldman Sachs International, London
Saatchi Collection, London
Tate Gallery, London


Kerlin Gallery, Dublin, Ireland, UK, 2000
Maureen Paley Interim Art, London, 2000
Mary Boone Gallery, New York, 1999
Kohn Turner Gallery, Los Angeles, USA, 1998
Bloom Gallery, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1996


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