Tate Britain Art Now space
21 September – 15 December 2002
Art Now is a programme of exhibitions which aims to promote discussion and awareness of new art in Britain. For the latest exhibition in the series Matt Franks will present a sculpture conceived for and installed on the ceiling, a new departure in his work.
Franks is one of a new generation of British sculptors whose work is characterised by the use of everyday materials and conscious references both to the tradition of modern sculpture and to the worlds of design, fashion, music and advertising. Franks employs domestic and industrial plastics including Styrofoam, Polystyrene, foam rubber and Perspex. These mass-produced, throwaway substances are hand carved by the artist to create unique forms. The highly-coloured, playful and humorous sculptures often take on a sickly sweet appearance, suggesting confectionary.
In his work Matt Franks refers to and parodies the new large-scale, colourful abstract sculpture that appeared in Britain in the 1960s, led by Anthony Caro and Phillip King. At the same time he quotes more distant figures in art history, including the great Italian Baroque sculptor Bernini. Seemingly opposite elements are fused - Baroque excess and theatricality set against modernist purity and truth to materials. Franks also alludes to the popular iconography of cartoons such as the Ren and Stimpy Show and the Simpsons, and the comics of Robert Crumb, creating weird and wonderful alien forms.
Franks’s new work for Art Now, transcendent plastic infinite, inverts the traditional floor-based sculpture, placing it on the ceiling, combining modernist sculptural concerns with those of Baroque ceiling decoration in an attempt to realise a contemporary parallel to the apotheoses typical of Baroque schemes. Franks’s new installation extends a body of work begun in 1999 with his highly acclaimed explosion pieces Easy Shot and Romeo. These polystyrene mushroom cloud explosions combine a throwaway impoverished material with an image that signified the concerns of the atomic age, and are both epic and comic.
Matt Franks was born in Yorkshire in 1970, and graduated from the MA Fine Art course at Goldsmith’s College, University of London, in 2000. Recent exhibitions include a solo show at asprey jacques, London (2002); Tailsliding, European touring exhibition organised by the British Council (2001-2); These Epic Islands, Vilma Gold Gallery, London (2000); and London Orphan Asylum, touring exhibition to South East Asia and Australia organised by the British Council (2000-1). The artist has been awarded a residency at Manukau Institute, University of Auckland, New Zealand, in October 2002. Matt Franks lives and works in London.
The exhibition is curated by Tim Batchelor, Curator, Tate Britain. The Art Now programme is supported by Patrons of New Art. A special preview of the exhibition is part of the free Late at Tate Britain on 20 September, 18.00 - 21.00.