Francesca Mollett - New Now London Thursday, December 8, 2022 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • “[Francesca Mollett] is an artist whose work argues for her medium’s necessity, for painting’s unique ability to illuminate those delicate, often hidden aspects of the world that would otherwise remain dark.”
    —Tom Morton

    Painted in 2021, Francesca Mollett's Untitled (Surfacing) is highly characteristic of the British artist’s  more recent work, visually dissecting the complex interrelationship between nature, the body, and the mind. Building on her previous interrogations of abstract natural scenes, her current paintings intersperse visions of an observed natural environment in tandem with her own psychological musings.


    Drawn to abstraction as a way of dissolving boundaries between forms and creating space for emotional  expression, Mollett’s practice draws especially on the fluid, shifting, and transformative qualities of weather and water to striking effect. In their presentation of Mollett’s 2021 solo exhibition Wild Shade, Informality Gallery pushed this even further, invoking the ‘radical collectivity’ proposed by materialist and hydrofeminist movements which have sought to realign our relationship to water and the natural world.i Qualifying this, the gallery highlighted Mollett's belief that her chosen medium has the capacity to 'convey oceanic feeling', while noting her alignment with the branch of psychoanalytical thought that melds sensation, feeling and materiality.ii


    Exemplifying these painterly and thematic issues, Untitled (Surfacing) liquifies colour, juxtaposing vast washes of watery pigment against tight, heavily applied passages, intentionally confusing our understanding of ground and sky, background and foreground. This discernible abstraction transports us to a quasi­naturalistic realm, one that nods to a perceivable reality, yet one that favours sensation. This oceanic entanglement of colour, brushstroke, tone, and line are met with semi-naturalistic depictions of lush flora. More figurative trees coincide with larger, looser areas of abstract light and shadow. These parallels lend the work with a collage-like quality, the oil and acrylic adopting a range of textural qualities which vitalise the composition and emphasise the work’s more tactile qualities. This masterful manipulation of surface forms a depth that makes the paintings feel traversable, while equally distorting our perception of scale.


    Mollett recently exhibited at Frieze London, marking the first public presentation of her work since the recent announcement of her representation with Grimm Gallery. Since completing her MA in painting from the Royal College of Art in 2020, she has exhibited at a range of international galleries in both solo and group shows.


     ‘A chat with Francesca Mollett’, L.U.P.O Lorenzelli Projects, 28 December 2021


    i Whitechapel Gallery, ‘Big Ideas: Astrida Neimanis,’ online.

    ii Informality, ‘Francesca Mollett,’ undated, online.


    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner


Untitled (Surfacing)

signed, titled and dated 'Untitled (Surfacing) Francesca Mollett 2021' on the overlap
oil and acrylic on calico
180.3 x 140.3 cm (70 7/8 x 55 1/4 in.)
Painted in 2021.

Full Cataloguing

£6,000 - 8,000 ‡♠

Sold for £81,900

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Gibbs
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now
+44 20 7901 7993


New Now

London Auction 8 December 2022