8 months ago

Artistic License: Mark Francis


The London-based Northern Irish artist is fascinated by the invisible energy of the universe, as seen in his new exhibition at KERLIN GALLERY

What was the starting point for your new exhibition?

The title for my show at Kerlin Gallery is called “White Light”. It is always hard to describe a complex and non-verbal process but I’ll have a go. I imagine that an infinite grid permeates the universe. The intersections on this grid link every single particle in existence which allows order and chaos to coexist. What lies between the space of any two objects in this universe? The vertical lines I have used in my paintings, punctuated with abstract white forms hint at the birth, journey and death of invisible energy fields. I need a starting point before I engage in making a painting. The process of painting then takes over and inevitably the ideas get pushed aside creating an abstract result.

How has your work evolved over time?

At the end of the eighties I became disillusioned with the landscapes I was painting. I still wanted to base my work around nature in some way, and over a number of months started to look at images of dissected plants. This opened up a totally new way of looking at forms and presented me with a micro world …  another type of landscape. Using these newly discovered images I began to mutate them and echo them through different artistic movements such as Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism. After a number of years working like this my work evolved again taking in a much bigger picture like the universe. From micro to macro.

Where and how do you work?

My studio is based in Peckham, London, close to where I live. I have had many studios in different parts of London but this is by far the most settled I have worked in. I always try to start the morning with a very long walk with my dog. It really clears my head and gives a good start to the day. Once I get to the studio there is no defined pathway to the way that I work. I may start painting straight away, spend time looking at what I painted the previous day or have a game of darts.

Who or what have been formative influences in your artistic journey?

A lot of things have influenced my journey as an artist. As a kid I was always outside, hiking and camping, which I think helped to form my love of remote landscape and the natural world. Perhaps also as a result of this I have formed a resilience and need for self motivation. As a younger artist there always seemed to be endless hurdles to jump before you found the time to get to the studio. This could simply be finding a job to pay for it. Living in London being surrounded by some of the best museums and contemporary art galleries is a bonus. Seeing a show that blows your mind can give you the biggest surge of energy when you get back in the studio. Having dialogue with your contemporaries is a must, either in the pub or the studio. It helps to sift out the stuff you are unsure about. My interest in science and collecting scientific ephemera has been a constant source of inspiration to me, but the biggest aid to me as an artist is having the privilege to get in the studio and paint every day.

Need to Know: “White Light” by Mark Francis is at Kerlin Gallery, Anne’s Lane, South Anne Street, Dublin 2, from January 25 to March 2, 2019; www.kerlingallery.com.

Penny McCormick

Read previous instalments of Artistic License …

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