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Post-Venice Upritchard

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Francis Upritchard, Day Dreamer, 2011, modeling material, foil, wire, paint, found fabric , 260 x 150 x 555 mm Francis Upritchard, Forward Motion, 2011, modelling materila, foi;l, paint, wire, 390 x 180 x 175 mm Francis Upritchard, Patternised, 2011, modelling material, steel mesh, paint, fabric, 270 x 700 x 170 mm Francis Upritchard, Sleeping Pterodactyl, 2011, 460 x 180 x 150 mm  Francis Upritchard, Angry, 2011, Super Sculpy, foil, wire, paint, 235 x 240 x 140 mm Francis Upritchard, Four Potato, 2011, glass, brass, steel, wood, 175 x 210 x 185 mm Francis Upritchard, Hairy Monkey Bottle, 2011, modelling material, foil, found buttons, ceramic, leather and fur, 230 x 105 x 115 mm Francis Upritchard, Harlequin Lamp, 2011, wood-fired sgraffito stoneware, 155 x diameter 180 mm

This beautifully simple idea of modified doorways holding up the sculpture is very effective; so obvious yet strangely dynamic. The screens become odd vertical paintings that enclose the sculpture as fields, eight ochrey rectangles you mentally tick off as you circumnavigate the space.



Francis Upritchard


3 March - 26 March 2010

With the opening of the 2011 Auckland Arts Festival things are looking very exciting for the visual arts in Auckland over the next month, although the horrible events in Christchurch have put a foul acrid taste in everybody’s mouth.

For a start, there some superb sculpture to be seen, especially with Sarah Lucas at Two Rooms (another review will appear for that) and Francis Upritchard at Ivan Anthony’s.

The Upritchard display seems to follow on from her Venice work in that it is cognisant of the architectural environs and the way the four small rooms interconnect. She has had the four doorways modified so that fabric covered, door-sized screens have been inserted, fastened with hinges, and left open for viewers to walk through. Shelves - also covered with the same speckly, orange-brown sofa/chair covering - have been attached to each side of the screens and used for presenting the sculpture. No plinths are in the gallery. Nothing is on the white walls. One ceramic diamond-patterned lampshade (with eye apertures) covers a bulb in the main room.

This beautifully simple idea is very effective; so obvious yet strangely dynamic. It makes you aware of the conjunctions between rooms, the lintels and jambs, the back of the thin screens, and the funny seventies era material. The screens become odd vertical paintings that enclose the sculpture as fields, eight ochrey rectangles you mentally tick off as you circumnavigate the space.

Yet the work is eyecatching, much of it like the Venice project, decorative with colourful harlequin diamond patterns, and funny seams over the gesturing figures. These are not graceful but slightly oafish and wonky (the limbs characteristically rubbery as if having a bone disease).The result is that the applied exuberant colour brings pathos - a poignant imperfection. There are a few furry monkey heads set in narrow necked vases as well, and lampshades with slit eyes glowing from the enclosed electric bulb.

Of the pre-exhibition (not in situ) images with this review, only the yellow long-beaked pterodactyl hanging upside down from a comically hacked-out ring like a domestic pet, has the same fabric as its background. The main crowd pleaser is probably the intricately detailed sleeping figure, a reference to Rousseau perhaps, wrapped in a little blanket. There is a set of doll’s house cutlery, set at table on a blue patterned scarf, that will attract admirers - although it is really too cute and ingratiating for what we expect from this artist.

So, looking at these dozen or so sculptures, it is a mix: the more recent variety of whimsical, sleeping or meditating figures in bright colours and patterns, and the earlier, dowdier (but funnier) ‘museological’ monkeyheads of fired clay, pots /baskets, buttons, leather and scruffy fur. A good introduction for a hopefully curious Arts Festival audience.

John Hurrell

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