Working in mixed media on canvas and acrylic panels, Ian Francis combines abstraction, figuration, and elements of both painting and drawing. For this exhibition, the artist is unveiling over a dozen medium- to large-scale works on canvas and ten smaller works on acrylic that reflect broadly on the experience of television entertainment. Season 1 Episode 0 is inspired by the reality and unreality of contemporary TV—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.
This concept of multidimensionality takes a psychological turn as Francis considers how audiences relate to fictional realities that are lived yet not lived—an ongoing, ever-changing series of beginnings and endings in the minds of viewers. The artist’s cross-disciplinary approach and layered imagery perfectly capture this phenomenon of constructed worlds, virtual relationships, and shifting dimensions.
One large canvas entitled A Scene Comes to an End in Prospect Park, for example, depicts a climactic interaction between two characters while crew members with boom mics stand by. Another painting, entitled After the Show, a Love Triangle Drifts Apart, foregrounds three figures experiencing (or acting out) an emotional breakup in a dark, indiscriminate atmosphere of trees, props, and film equipment. Ritualcontains partly rendered makeup artists building up the more defined, “fleshed-out” faces of actors. By contrast, the painting An Escape Plan is Limited by How Far Reality Extends Beyond the Window depicts the cognitive dissonance and rupture of illusion at the edges of a soundstage set.
Francis’ mixed-media practice includes such materials as charcoal, oil, ink, graphite, and acrylic paint. High-color washes and jagged brushwork are interposed with meticulously rendered faces, postures, and emotional vignettes. His seemingly spontaneous application of paint and nontraditional approach to materials creates a charged context for the works’ subtler notes of melancholy and alienation, and the artist’s keen sense of contemporary social mores. One is left with an awareness of the fragility of the image, our increasingly personalized consumption of fictional narratives, and the unyielding pursuit of “perfection” embodied by media content and production today.
Season 1 Episode 0
April 25 to May 25, 2013
Photos by Jamie Martinez