SafARI Artist Profile: Patrick Francis
By Allanah Jansons - Backyard Opera
Patrick Francis is a young contemporary artist based in Melbourne, Victoria. Born in 1991, Francis began exhibiting in 2009 at the tender age of 18. Since then he has been the 2012 recipient of the Art & Australia /Credit Suisse Private Banking Contemporary Art Award and also in 2012 was the featured artist for Arts Project Australia at the Melbourne Art Fair. In 2013 Francis was featured in the Autumn edition of Art & Australia and held two exhibitions; At the Table, Arts Project Australia, Melbourne and Classic Albums, Tanks Art Centre, Cairns.
Francis usually works with acrylic on paper where he uses bold colours as an expressive tool combined with his signature blocks of colour. His paintings often reference imagery from art history and visual culture. Despite the images often distorted depictions, Francis presents something that feels honest and real.
We spoke to Sim Luttin, Gallery Manager and Curator at Arts Project Australia who answered on behalf of Patrick Francis, giving us insight into how and why Patrick creates the contemporary images we are sure to see more of.
What was Patrick’s earliest memory of art? Was this something he was always drawn to?
Patrick Francis has been creating art since he was young. He began exhibiting at Arts Project Australia in 2009 when he was eighteen years old.
What inspires and influences him?
A prolific painter, Francis works primarily in acrylic on paper. His paintings draw from his own personal experiences, from first hand encounters with Melbourne to his knowledge of popular culture and art history. Francis is drawn to costume and vivid colour schemes, so historical imagery and the entertainment industry loom large in his chosen subject matter.
How would you describe Patrick's artistic style?
Using a bold colour palette, Francis’ paintings are refined, expressive representations of portraiture and still life. His work ranges from studies of well-known celebrities and icons, from Marilyn Monroe to the fifteenth century Italian Renaissance author Baldassare Castiglione, to observations from everyday life. Francis’ liberated under-drawing is the key to his work, often discarding details in order simplify the image to its essential elements.
Partick began exhibiting at 18, was this daunting or exhilarating?
Francis has embraced and refined his painting practice since exhibiting at age 18. The exhibitions he is featured in seems to inspire rather than daunt him, and there is a pride in his work that is evident when you witness Francis interacting with his work in an exhibition context. Francis seems very comfortable with the attention he has received with his recent successes given that he has difficulty with crowds and noise that usually accompany exhibition openings and the like.
What does it mean for him to receive exposure during an event such as the Biennale of Sydney?
The exposure during the Biennale of Sydney is amazing for the development of Francis' career, especially following his recent installation in Melbourne Now at the National Gallery of Victoria, and following his success as a 2012 Art &Australia/Credit Suisse Private Banking Contemporary Art Award emerging artist. This places Francis' work at the top of the emerging artist field, and validates the value and regard of his work amongst curators and collectors.
Why do you believe initiatives such as SafARI are important?
Arts Project Australia Gallery Manager & Curator Sim Luttin says, "Initiatives like SafARI are important for artists such as Patrick Francis, in terms of creating a platform to build exposure and support for emerging artists at a crucial stage in their career. It allows the artists work to be viewed by a wide audience, within a context that is at the forefront of unearthing new and exciting artists wanting to break into the broader contemporary art sector."
Do you have any advice for other young artists who may be hesitant to take the leap to exhibit their work?
If you want to be taken seriously as a contemporary artist and see yourself as wanting to eventually exhibit at a national or international level, you have to; back yourself, be brave and get your work out there as soon as you can. Get involved in the contemporary art sector. See as much art as you can and focus on getting your artwork out into the public realm by exhibiting it in respected or high profile galleries/ARIs/Art Fairs/locations and entering it into respected art prizes and awards."
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