Influenced by his previous work as a commercial illustrator, the hyperrealism of British artist Mike Francis takes on a more imaginary approach. Mixing natural landscapes with elements of the urban as the backdrop for his subjects, the artist creates a narrative that viewers are invited to interpret and add to. His works blur the boundary between the real and the imaginary, to the point where they become indistinguishable.
Making the most of his West Country upbringing and love of the coast, he used this natural habitat to develop his exceptional skill and technique. Working from personal photographs, detailed sketches and a melange of magazine cuttings collected over the years, content is equally key to Francis's work as is the technique.
Many of the pieces, both in oil and acrylic on canvas, concentrate on Francis's large scale landscape, pool and beach scenes. Often including a prominent female figure accompanied by a dog, many of his compositions possess a distinctive summer feel and remain vibrant in colour and narrative. Some of his creations bare a resemblance to 1950s postcards, again highlighting how he combines styles from his commercial illustrator past with techniques more in tune with hyperrealism.
Francis has often said he learnt how to tell a visual story through composition and colour during his years as a draughtsman. He has cited Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth as being his greatest influences along with the emerging American realists of the time.
Francis was among the first movement of British artists to develop the 'realist' technique and tasted success in 1972 when he won the National Gallery's 150th anniversary poster competition, the only contemporary artist's work to appear on a National Gallery poster. His work has since been shown at various exhibitions and art fairs in London, New York, Paris, Basel, Cologne, Stockholm, Munich and Washington DC.
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