Mark Francis b. 1962


Mark Francis is an Irish artist who studied at St. Martin’s School of Art (1980-85) and later The Chelsea School of Art (1985-6). His work is pre-dominately based on microscopic imagery; creating abstract art derived from microbiological photography. An underpinning concept within his practice is the exploration of the possibilities of painting, a notion which he interrogates through fusing artistic and scientific discourses.

Although he began by depicting landscapes, his artistic production became increasingly abstract and complex from about 1989 onwards. He became interested in making the invisible visible through portraying forms that could only be seen by the human eye through a microscope, and therefore suggesting space which was simultaneously infinite and finite. This therefore disrupts the abstract/figurative binary and results in a collection of remarkably distinctive works; an archetypal piece often recognizable in its smooth surfaces, layered with meandering lines which are punctuated with dots. His use of a dry-brushing technique, bearing comparison to Gerhard Richter’s work, lends the pieces a glossy, seductive sheen and a blurring of forms. This is emphatic of the feeling that the paintings are seeking out cells which are both elusive and transitory.

1995 marked a pivotal point in Francis’s career, as he was involved in the two landmark exhibitions The Adventure of Painting  in Dusseldorf and From Here at The Waddington Galleries in London. Each exhibition’s central aim was to question the direction of contemporary art at the time; a concept which is cemented in Francis’s work as his subjects challenge the nature of perception itself.