Aged Man, 2006
bronze, 44 x 16 x 8 cm
For her second solo in the gallery, Francis Upritchard has made a series of new sculptural figures.
She makes objects as if they were drawings and there is always an idiosyncratic wobble to them. Her cameos, flasks and vases with animal heads have hand-hewn outlines that denote not a fragility but a pleasure of making, a tactile immediacy.
The source material from which these objects spring is an implausibly wide delta of ethnographic references, from Egyptian to Maori to European heraldry to Romanticism to unidentifiable otherness. Upritchard mashes all these together into improbable objects that make a mockery of our attempts to identify and categorise them. So although these might appear to be desirable objects, they are also politicised propositions, drawing out confusions inherent in our understanding of cultural difference. Although wrought with a very personal touch, they endeavour to find common threads throughout humanity; the comic and the appalling appear in equal measure and can be traced back to any number of sources.
We may exercise our taste, deciding whether these are beautiful or ugly objects, but installed in the gallery they adopt the neutral status of museological display. They are simply a material fact, their meaning forced entirely into how they look, and isolated from possible utilitarian contexts. That they are bad copies, or poisoned versions, of ancient realities is a cue to reconsider the ethics of cultural colonialism and the divisive role of the ethnographic artefact.
Francis Upritchard, born 1976 in New Zealand, lives and works in London.
Exhibition: 2 September - 28 October 2006
Gallery hours: Wed-Sat 12 am - 6 pm
Kate MacGarry Gallery
95-97 Redchurch Street
UK-London E2 7DJ
Telephone +44 020.7613 3909