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Details & Cataloguing

The Robert Devereux Collection of Post-War British Art in aid of the African Arts Trust, Sale 1

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London

Mark Francis
B. 1962
UNTITLED

Provenance

Sale, Christie's London, 10th February 2005, lot 258, where acquired by the present owner

Catalogue Note

'The interwoven structure, logic, colour and intuition in Mark Francis's work describes a tension beneath the calm at the beginning of the new millennium.  There is a perceptually shifting richness produced by spare, simple and self-evident structures and elements in the work.  Perhaps they signal and assert a particular resonance, a feeling that we as individuals must bring a more thoughtful integrity to the way we live in the twenty-first century...'
Stephen Snoddy, Mark Francis: Elements, exh. cat., Milton Keynes Gallery, Milton Keynes, 2000, p.5

Francis' preoccupation with microbiology forms the basis of what have become his best known paintings.  The present work stems from his series of Elements, a collection of large-scale paintings of cellular clusters executed in the mid 1990s.  Drawing on fragments of scientific imagery that Francis has collected over the years, these works clearly have origins in the laboratory and with the assiduity of a scientist, he focuses in each work on single microscopic elements. In the present work, the cells are also surrounded by a grey penumbra suggestive of the shadows present in medical x-rays and scans. The combination of scientific data with a sense of infinity and spontaneity achieved by the vast scale of the composition where the forms seemingly extend well beyond the picture plane, achieves a highly compelling abstract vocabulary, far removed from its original source under a microscope.

In a move away from the subtle monochrome pallete of the present work, Francis developed the series to include brightly coloured backgrounds which throw the scientific thrust of the cells into relief.  In works such as Growth Indian Yellow and Brown Lake (see The Robert Devereux Collection, Sale 2, lot 137) and Untitled (lot 167), organic dripping paint contrasts with the molecular imagery adding an intriguing complexity to the image. 

The Robert Devereux Collection of Post-War British Art in aid of the African Arts Trust, Sale 1

|
London