FRANCIS MARSHALL AND THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
02.07.17 - 10.09.17
The sprawling studio of FRANCIS MARSHALL is an open-air theatre of wondrous and peculiar folk. For the population of this artistic endeavour are the random and every day, the curious and the bored, where family feasts and abandoned waiting-rooms squash their cast’s bulbous bodies into tight-fitted space.
MARSHALL’s people are beautiful people. They live in the wilderness, unattended for decades, and their skins share a patina of dirt, stink and sun. Like the leathery works of a time long forgot, MARSHALL’s figures seem to mirror the personality of their maker. They yearn for another kind of life.
Championed by Alain Bourbonnais - the legendary founder of La Fabuloserie in Dicy, France - MARSHALL’s work was first made public in 1973 at Atelier Jacob in Paris. Since then he has been exhibited at the Musee d’Art Modern (France), American Visionary Art Museum (USA) and Hayward Gallery in the seminal Outsiders exhibition in 1979.
Now MARSHALL’s cast of outsiders are housed in a gallery for the first time after years of exterior imprisonment. The Gallery of Everything invites you to sit amongst FRANCIS MARSHALL’s beautiful people, to wait for the bus, to drink soup and to ride discarded bicycles, until the summer sun fades.
THROUGH THE EYES OF THE VISIONARY REFUGEE ARTIST JOHNSON WEREE, ALL ARE BEAUTIFUL. WORKING FROM A COMMUNITY LIBRARY AND LIVING WITHOUT A PERMANENT HOME, WEREE’S PRACTICE INVOLVES DRAWING FROM EARLY MORNING UNTIL LATE AT NIGHT CREATING SURREAL AND OTHERWORLDLY PORTRAITS OF IMAGINED SUBJECTS.
AS CHILD IN LIBERIA WEREE SALVAGED DISCARDED MATERIALS FOR HIS CREATIONS. USING BATTERY FLUID FOR PAINT AND SCRAP WOOD FOR CANVASS, HIS LIMITED ACCESS TO MEDIA MADE HIM COME TO CHERISH COLOUR. NOW HE WORKS WITH BALLPOINT PENS, GELS, PENCILS AND PASTELS WITH A PALETTE OF UNLIMITED VIBRANCY.
WEREE’S SUBJECTS STARE UNAPOLOGETICALLY FROM THE PAPER, ARRESTING THE VIEWER WITH THEIR CONFIDENT PIERCING EYES. DOG NOSES SIT CLOSE TO THIN LIPS AND MENS’ HAIRLINES RECEDE. THE WOMAN OF WEREE’S WORLD HAVE BRIGHT BLUSHED CHEEKS AND WEAR MULTI-COLOURED EYE SHADOW. OFTEN FIGURES APPEAR WITHIN FIGURES, EMERGING FROM BUTTONHOLES OR LIKE A THIRD-EYE IN THE CENTRE OF A FOREHEAD.
WEREE’S PICTURES ARE UNLIKE ANY OTHERS. THOUGH THEY MAY FOLLOW THE COMPOSITION OF TRADITIONAL PORTRAITURE THEY ARE UNENCUMBERED BY IT’S LIMITATIONS.
LOOKING AT WEREE’S WORK MY BE AKIN TO CONFRONTING A MIRROR THAT REVEALS AN ALTERNATE REALITY. ONE WHERE WE ARE CONFIDENT AND BOLD, DRESSED LIKE KINGS AND QUEENS - A WORLD OF IRREPRESSIBLE BEAUTY.