Season 1 Episode 0 is an exhibition of new paintings by the British artist Ian Francis, presented by Joshua Liner Gallery. Marking his second solo show at the space, the artist is unveiling over a dozen medium- to large-scale works on canvas, alongside ten smaller works on acrylic that reflect broadly on the shared experience of entertainment. Working in mixed media on canvas, Mr. Francis is known for combining abstraction, figuration, and elements of both painting and drawing to create distinctly contemporary works. He takes his inspiration from the sometimes-shadowy side of modern day culture: television, pornography, street culture, and images sampled at random from the Internet.
Season 1 Episode 0 is inspired by said media, specifically the reality (or unreality) of television. Francis draws from 'the made-up world of characters and storylines; to the digital manipulation of locations and visual effects; to the myriad platforms existing today for production, delivery, and global consumption'. His characters, clusters of dreamy, semi-clad figures are depicted amid high-color washes and aggressive brushwork. The artist’s cross-disciplinary approach and layered imagery perfectly capture the constructed worlds, virtual relationships, and shifting dimensions. Some of the scenes are romantic, others hedonistic. These figures are so common in our world it's difficult to determine whether they are recognizable or not to the viewer. However Francis is in on the twisted joke, aware that the young and beautiful denizens he creates are in fact the false ideal of a particular media fantasy fueled by sex, death, and celebrity. Abstraction and figuration mutually support his suggestion of a global intersection of violence and style.
One large piece entitled 'A Scene Comes to an End in Prospect Park', for example, shows a climactic interaction between two characters while a crew with boom mics stand by. Another painting, entitled After the Show, a Love Triangle Drifts Apart, foregrounds three figures experiencing an emotional breakup in a dark, indiscriminate atmosphere of trees, props, lighting and grip. The addition of hollow outlines and unfinished interiors in which the figures inhabit only enhance the subtler notes of melancholy, alienation and ghastliness.
Be sure to tune in…Ian Francis’ Season 1 Episode 0 will be on view at the Joshua Liner Gallery through May 25.
Words by Daniel Alonso