Mark Francis is a painter known for his grid-based paintings of organic microscopic forms, such as fungi or sperm, spaciously or densely arranged in meticulously organised flowing structures. He likes to play with order and chaos, exploring his interest in science, especially mycology.Read More
Besides tiny microbic microcosms, he is also fascinated by macrocosms, and systems of constellations in astronomy. Often with dark wispy skeletal grids, he uses hot saturated oranges or robust blues dramatically positioned in the background.
In the early 1980s, Francis attended St Martin's School of Art in London, but completed his Masters of Arts in painting at London's Chelsea School of Art in 1986.
With his use of matrixes and delicate biological forms superimposed on fields of variously hot or dark colour, Mark Francis' paintings vary in mood.
Some series, such as those featuring sonic-looking clusters of vertical lines, focus on a wet-on-wet technique, where a blending of background and foreground is important. See Sonic Dub (2021) or Major, Minor, Major, Major (2021).
Francis is fond of repetition and pattern, and how various repeated modules spatially cohere through pattern, as in Source (1992) and Untitled (2008). He delights in building up visual tensions through clustering and suggesting the opposite through open spaces.
On some occasions, the paintings are aleatory, deliberately including unpredictable quantities within the gridded units, and not sticking to consistent formulas in all parts of the matrix. See, for example, Gyration (1998), Compression Destruction (1994), and Traveller (2007). They remain decorative and seductive while at the same time teetering on the verge of rhythmic disintegration.
Mark Francis has been the subject of both solo and group exhibitions.
Solo exhibitions include Mark Francis, Palazzo Collicola, Spoleto (2022); Mark Francis, Bernhard Knaus, Frankfurt (2021); RE-SOUND, Graphic Studio Gallery, Dublin (2020); Ocean Light, Gallery Forsblom, Helsinki (2019); White Light, Kerlin Gallery, Dublin (2019); and Spectra, Luca Tomassi Arte Contemporanea, Milan (2018).
Group exhibitions include Abstract Painting Now, Kunsthalle Krems, Austria (2017); The Underlying Shape, Floss and Schultz, Cologne (2017); Painting Black, Museum Wilhelm Morgner, Foundation of Conceptual Art, Soest (2017); 5 Years at Heddon Street, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London (2016); and The Pattern Reveals Itself, Claudia Weil Galerie.
Francis' works are held in major institutional collections across the globe, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Saatchi Collection, London; Museum of Modern Art, Miami; The Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, Miami; Ulster Museum, Belfast.
John Hurrell | Ocula | 2022