It’s rare that an art monograph attains the status of a work of art in its own right. Francis Upritchard’s Human Problems might be just such a book. It’s not a doorstopper and it’s not full of pontificating essays. It doesn’t even offer a biography of the artist. Instead, Human Problems is an exceptionally unified production in which the designer and the author have matched and magnified the quirks of the artist.
The rising London-based artist Francis Upritchard, born in 1976 in New Zealand, takes thriftstore pots and remakes them as canopic urns, ancient Egyptian repositories for the organs of the dead; converts old fur coats into stuffed monkeys and chimps; and makes striking necklaces, at once primitive and ultra-contemporary, out of materials like cigarette butts, wire and plastic straws. Perhaps these fragments shore the artist up against her own ruin. A gift from a relative, an unwanted wedding present or a generic tourist souvenir--even the tackiest ornament once played a small symbolic function in someone's life. Upritchard repurposes these materials to reveal their underlying purpose--to personalize and decorate our domestic spaces and to fabricate memories which can offset our knowledge of our own impending death. Francis Upritchard is represented by Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York.