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 Francis Sprout  

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Lived/Active: Arizona/California      Known for: abstract color field painting, drawing,

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Biography from Vero Beach Museum Of Art:
Artist Statement:
My early work was conditioned by the need to depict the things of my environment with pencil & paper.  In the late 1960s I painted in the abstract figurative style to which I was introduced in undergraduate school at the University of Arizona.  This work consisted of mixed-media paintings and drawings (oil, acrylic, collage elements).

In 1971, I encountered Moslem decorative tile patterns in an art history course at the University of California, San Diego.  The geometric configuration, repetitive order and meditative qualities evident in these patterns became the basis for large-scale, color-field paintings throughout the 1970s.  Toward the end of the decade I began experimenting with non-traditional paint application techniques and the pigmentation of natural materials in order to expand the image-making possibilities.

In 1978, I integrated pictograph-like creatures into the multi-layered paint surfaces because of their immediate graphic quality and ancient cross-cultural references. Origin myths, emblems of leadership, and early forms of script evolved from literal or imaginative representations of such animals.  These schematic depictions also had the linear, geometric, and repetitive qualities that I had been working with in the tile pattern paintings.  Throughout the 1980s I continued to create paintings, drawings and collages with textured and patterned surfaces that featured bulls, elephants, roosters and other fowl.  

In the summer of 1991, I began the Disjunctive Cross series.  These medium size canvases were painted in earth tones with sand and dried seedpods or straw appliqués to augment the hues and textures.  The paintings began with randomly painted surfaces in earth tones.  Above this there is a slanting partial grid pattern made of criss-crossed bars of paint.  Five grid segments forming a cross in the center of the grid are lifting, but are held in place by a loose illusionary thread that winds throughout the grid pattern.  On the left side of each painting a triangulated pattern frames the edge - like a mountain range turned on its side. This imagery was influenced by the principles of geometric abstraction and the geography of the southwest.

Another series of paintings depicts images of open doorways, some with sash windows or shutters attached.  The window is meant to augment the idea that the canvas is a threshold for the viewer’s imagination. Opening or closing the window can change the meaning of the painting.  During this period I also painted terracotta support surfaces that are framed by serpents.  In 2000, the openings in the canvases became boxes that opened and closed

More recently an African mask I collected some time ago became the subject of a series of paintings and drawings. The mask type made by the Baule people of the Ivory Coast is fascinating for its aesthetic appeal. Collectors of modern paintings and African art often display masks adjacent to paintings because of a perceived abstract relationship. My paintings reexamine this synthesis of cultural abstractions by putting the mask in the painting to be displayed on the wall.  

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