Francesca Grace McLeod

From her earlier works of dark sensuality to her latest celebrations of life in bright hyper-colour, Francesca continues to explore surveillance and ambiguity in her painted works. Her interest in photo-journalism and pop culture helps to produce work that is often confrontational and forces her audience to decide where they sit with their own voyeuristic impulses.


The striking, very warm and generous use of colour and texture is playful to the extreme; and, whether they portray intense coital moments, visceral street life or alarming portraits, McLeod’s works are always very pleasing to the eye and teeming with vitality.


Her latest works, a series of hyper-expressive portraits, feature a host of gloriously entertaining, gurning and perplexed profiles. Here, in this Instagrammed age of the ‘selfie’, McLeod turns the indulgent focus of ‘the self’ back onto the audience as perversely as she’s ever done. We, the audience, are almost attacked by the sheer bloody-minded expression on her subjects’ faces. We, the audience, seem to be the focus of their lives, their reason for such exaggerated expressions as they often lock uncomfortable eye contact with us, peer at us through a magnifying glass (that theme of surveillance again) or even seem to be making fun of us. How dare they?! Yet you cannot help but fall in love with the characters of McLeod’s world; whether they pull faces at us, intentionally make us feel awkward with their alarming stare, or are maybe caught off-guard in a private moment of their own, there’s so much seductive life and emotion on show here.


One perfect question is left forever unanswered whenever one looks at McLeod’s work: who is actually looking at whom? For it seems that we, the audience, are just as much the focus of Francesca’s world as her beautifully painted models and scenes. They are forever staring back at us, confronting us, forcing us into becoming part of their private or intimate moments. Could it be that we are the reason for their playful antics? Our focus on them becomes a focus on ourselves in some kind of perpetuating cycle of voyeurism.


Francesca’s work is a sensual and painterly celebration of the moment that leaves your senses tingling; you feel as alive and vital as her vibrant subjects.


© 2016 Kemp Street Productions

Part of Brighton's Arty Family