The political and cultural positions of our age appear to emerge from a collective understanding or rather misunderstanding of England - of what it was and what it ought to be...
Ghosts are powerful. Our memories, both personal and universal, shape our culture and our perception of it.
With the Danny Boyle Olympic ceremony in 2012 bandying about icons of the UK or England to feel good about ourselves; Elgar, James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, the Queen and Paddington bear, all exist as a kind of English lexicon to provide comfort and security in our national identity. Since Brexit, figures and icons symbolising England have become more divisive, locked within a cultural war.
These paintings are about a sense of what it feels like to embody Englishness collectively, as well as about personal memories and obsessions of my own. Ultimately, we are conditioned by echoes of Englishness, whether we like it or not. - Archie Franks
About the Artist
Archie Franks’ vivid and gestural painting combines an abstract treatment of pigment, texture and a heightened use of color with dramatic and dynamic line. Within this approach, Franks connects his practice to the realm of the imaginary and dream world: “Memory, decadence and a dream like unreality are core recurring themes in the work, as is a touch of humour and a touch of the gothic.”In compressed yet energetic works, there is a luxurious heaviness in the application of paint, and the mark of the artist is visible. Landscapes and still life subjects are imbued with a magical sense of animism. This sensibility is something Franks shares with the work of School of Paris painter Chaim Soutine, particularly in the talent for constructing spaces of ordinary subjects with an intensity of feeling and expression.- Rosa JH Berland