Francis Upritchard and Alfred Kubin

Francis Upritchard and Alfred Kubin

Nottingham Contemporary

Left: Francis Upritchard, Jockey, 2012. Right: Alfred Kubin, The Lord of the World, 1900.

July 1, 2012

Francis Upritchard
A Hand of Cards

Alfred Kubin
The Other Side

21 July–30 September 2012

Nottingham Contemporary
Weekday Cross
Nottingham NG1 2GB

Nottingham Contemporary is delighted to present the UK’s first major exhibition at a public gallery by Francis Upritchard. Originally from New Zealand and now living in London, Upritchard’s recent works are human figures presented on elaborately crafted bases that appear archaic, yet also seem to be devotees of contemporary alternative cults. There is a post-festival feeling to their sorry gatherings, emphasised by Upritchard’s use of acid-bright colours and her hand-woven textiles.

Upritchard has made over 20 new works for the Nottingham Contemporary exhibition, seven “soldier” figures; seemingly captured mid attack, the group is perhaps influenced by the many medieval myths of Nottingham. In the adjacent gallery, Upritchard has assembled a gathering of her melancholic hippies, or “holy fools.” In one sense these sculptures address the failures of the 1960s and 1970s counter-culture and its gaudy, individualistic “alternative” aftermath.

Her exhibition both draws upon and parodies crafts and the applied arts. For this exhibition she has worked with the renowned furniture designer Martino Gamper. Upritchard also works closely with contemporary writers.

Some of Uprichard’s earlier works have made their way into the Alfred Kubin galleries. It is as if these sculptures have left the imaginary spaces of Kubin’s drawings for the solid dimensions of our own world. Domestic, animal, and not-quite-human references abound in both artists’ works. At root both are visual artists with literary sensibilities, who make unsettling images relating to dreams, fantasies, and anxieties.

Francis Upritchard represented New Zealand at the 2009 Venice Biennale and has had solo exhibitions at Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati (2012) and Secession in Vienna (2010). In 2006 she was awarded The Walters Prize, New Zealand’s most prestigious award for contemporary art.

Alfred Kubin (1877–1959) was a late symbolist whose work also anticipated the dreamworlds of Surrealism. His beautifully executed drawings remain some of the most disturbing images of the early 1900s. This is the first major exhibition in Britain devoted to this extraordinary work for many decades and follows important recent reappraisals of his art at Neue Galerie in New York and Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

His haunting drawings of violent death, psychic trauma, and bizarre creatures anticipated both the horrors of the First World War and the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud. In a few short years he produced hundreds of black-and-white drawings that explored his desires, neuroses, and nightmares.

The strange and often violent nature of his work, executed in a distinctive and delicate ink wash technique, is also drawn from his own life experience. He never recovered from a deeply troubled childhood, losing his mother at a young age. He was, he said, seduced by a pregnant woman shortly afterwards. Following a failed suicide attempt at the age of 19, and a complete nervous breakdown at 20, Kubin was sent to Munich to study at the art academy. There he discovered the work of artists like Goya, Klinger, Munch, Ensor, and Redon, which ignited a period of fervent creativity between the years 1898 and 1906, the period covered by this exhibition.

He also found critical and commercial success. His work was admired by artists like Paul Klee and Franz Marc who invited him to join the influential Blaue Reiter group. In 1909 Kubin wrote the disturbing and fantastical novel The Other Side, the portrayal of a dystopian dream realm, which was cited as a key influence by Franz Kafka for his novel The Castle. His work looks shockingly contemporary to this day.

A colour publication accompanies the exhibition with a specially commissioned fictional essay by the author Ali Smith.

*Image above:
Left: Francis Upritchard, Jockey, 2012. Courtesy of Kate MacGarry, London.
Right: Alfred Kubin, The Lord of the World, 1900. Courtesy of Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, Kubin-Archive. © Eberhard Spangenberg / DACS, 2012.



Francis Upritchard and Alfred Kubin at Nottingham Contemporary
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Nottingham Contemporary
July 1, 2012

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