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Graham FRANSELLA (b.1950)

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Graham Fransella was born in Harrow, England in 1950. Throughout 1970 he journeyed across Europe, visiting Italy, France, Spain and Greece. Returning to England, Fransella studied under Ian Colverson at Bradford Art School, Yorkshire from 1970 to 1973. In 1972 he was awarded the Bradford College Travelling Scholarship, affording him the opportunity of revisiting Europe, this time taking in the Munich Olympic Games and the Isle of Wight Rock Festival. In the same year, the artist’s work was represented in the 2nd International Print Biennale, Bradford, UK.

In 1974 Fransella travelled through Malaysia en route to a six month visit to Melbourne, Australia, after which time he returned to teach at Bradford Art School, U.K. In 1975, Australia lured Fransella back again. In 1976 he assisted ANU Canberra’s Artist-in Residence Bea Maddock to print etchings. 1977 saw the artist take up an appointment as Printmaking Technician at Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne. The following year Fransella held his first solo show at Stuart Gerstman Gallery, Melbourne.

The wanderlust bit again in 1979 with Fransella visiting England and France. 1981 saw his exhibition of small scale etchings at Stuart Gerstman Galleries, with his work purchased by National Gallery, Canberra. In the same year, Fransella was appointed lecturer at Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne. In 1983 he held his first exhibition at Macquarie Galleries, Sydney and began work on his first ‘Parrot’ Series of etchings “Who Shot the Parrot?” He also travelled again to Italy, France and U.K. In 1985 Fransella exhibited at Gerstman Abdullah Fine Arts International, Cologne, West Germany and received the Maitland Art Prize for his etching “Man with Case”.

1986 was a prolific year for Fransella. He worked for 6 months at John Walker’s studio in London, travelled to France and Italy, exhibited at Los Angeles Arts Fair and began printing with Michel Szczepanski. In 1989 Fransella held his first London exhibition at Rebecca Hossack Gallery and travelled to France and London. In 1992 he was awarded the Australian Council Grant and Mitchelton Print Prize and worked at the Australian Print Workshop, crafting large scale prints and a set of erotic etchings. In 1996 Fransella and his son Eric journeyed to Paris and England. In 1997 the artist travelled through the Red Centre visiting Aboriginal communities and viewing indigenous art works before moving to his studio in Brooklyn, Melbourne in 1998.

The year 2000 saw Fransella win the prestigious Wynne Trustees Watercolour Prize. He resigned from his lecturing position to devote himself full time to his own work. Travelling by light plane he ventured to the Northern Territory and Western Australia, taking in Bungle Bungles, Lake Eyre and Coober Pedy. In 2001 Fransella journeyed along the Gibb River Road in the Kimberley visiting aboriginal art sites. The following year saw the artist visit the Arnhem to view aboriginal rock art and dwelling sites. In 2004 he visited London, Paris and Southern Spain and in 2006, travelled to New York. In 2006, 2007 and 2009 Fransella was again awarded the Wynne Trustees Watercolour Prize, was a Finalist in the Dobell Prize, Gallery of NSW and again travelled to Tuscany and London.

Today, Graham Fransella lives and works in Melbourne. He is represented throughout Australia in major galleries, including National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Queensland Art Gallery, Parliament House, Print Council of Australia and Artbank. Private collections representing Fransella in Australia, Europe and the USA include Saatchi and Saatchi, London and Crown Casino, Melbourne.

Graham Fransella’s work has been widely appraised and commended by the art world: "Graham Fransella’s etchings are simultaneously direct, simple and confronting, as well as meditative experiences, built up through an endless layering of marks, surfaces and signs. It is this combination of the immediacy, vibrancy and rawness of toilet graffiti, with the distilled sophistication of a beautifully resolved intaglio print, and the inevitable resulting internal tension, which gives his work its distinctive character.” Professor Sasha Grishin, Head, Art History, Australian National University.

"Fransella’s work demonstrates a richness and depth of technique, the wonderfully subtle emergence and submergence of forms, the Albertian sense of completeness where nothing could be added or subtracted without the rightness and unity of the composition and meaning being fractured. It proclaims both the archetype and the human." Dr. Dugald McLellan, Art Historian, University of Sydney.

Perhaps the final word on the motivation and inspiration behind the work of Graham Fransella should come from the artist himself: "I have always had a liking for images which engage the eye and drawings that are spontaneously arrived at rather than pre-ordained. Pictures may appear simple, initially, but they reveal much more after contemplation. A good picture should be able to bear lots of looking at." Graham Fransella.


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