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Debra Franses, a master of sleek originality, infuses her art with luxury and a captivating sense of familiarity. Her collection includes compressed resin sculptures, three-dimensional wall art, and captivating lightboxes, all inspired by her profound appreciation for pop art. However, her approach transcends the conventional boundaries of vintage or retro aesthetics.
Franses reimagines pop art in a contemporary context, where branding takes on heightened significance in both commercial and personal realms. Her creations resonate with modern audiences, reflecting our evolving relationship with brands and their influence on our lives. Experience the allure of Debra Franses' art, where innovation and nostalgia intertwine.
With their sleek originality, luxury and sense of familiarity, Debra’s compressed resin sculptures, three-dimensional wall art and lightboxes owe much to her love of pop art, but not in the classic sense of vintage or retro tropes.
Rather, she brings the concept into a contemporary sphere, where branding, commercial and personal, is more important to us than ever.
Playful and provocative, her work examines that modern phenomenon of self-curation, how we present ourselves in both the material and digital worlds and how the objects we carry reflect our sense of self. We have always displayed the emblems that we treasure, but in the 21st century, the curator has become the curated.
Brought up by an art teacher and an international agent for luxury brands, Debra was exposed to a unique outlook on art and fashion from a young age which helped to develop her intriguing style.
At 21, she left the UK with a degree in Politics from the University of Manchester and worked her way across Spain and Italy, living out of suitcases in hotels. As well as becoming a trilingual communicator, she visited countless galleries and came into contact with the cosmopolitan world of European fashion – all formative elements in the development of her artistic style. Art provided a way for her to link the disparate and colourful strands of her life together and gave her a channel through which to express herself.
On her return to the UK in 2001, Debra enrolled at the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London. It was here that the idea for Artbags first materialised when she seconded a beautiful but impractical handbag from a top couture house and adapted it into a silicone mould for casting. She graduated with the Digitex Art Graduate of the year award to exhibit in the Design Room at Selfridges and quickly established a career as a full time artist.
Her early works were highly autobiographical but as she progressed, she began to explore the experiences of others. She was intrigued by our complex relationship with the material world, especially with those objects which are both consumable fashion goods and important reference points in our lives, celebrating love, recalling events, or reinforcing our dreams and aspirations. Art, she says, is her universal language for exploring all the colourful facets of life. As a political person she often incorporates hints and comments within the work, for instance in her inclusion of weapons to comment on terrorism or gun culture. She can also be playful or celebratory, as in a recent collection made with real Chanel Bottles to mark 100 years of the No.5 iconic bottle shape.
Debra’s first solo show was in New York City in 2009 and since then she has exhibited and sold her work in many of the world’s most glamorous locations and to clients as diverse as Coca Cola, the SWMB museum in Basel and Gucci. She regularly collaborates with her contemporaries including Gary McQueen (Alexander McQueen’s nephew) and LA artist Betsy Enzensberger, and she has won numerous awards including the Edward James Slade West Dean Scholarship and a Venice Travel Scholarship. Debra has lived and worked in New York, Milan, Ibiza and London where she is now based.
“Spanning luxury and familiarity, the elements held in each bag combine comfort, prestige and style. The medium of resin encapsulation intensifies the presence of the items with the anticipation of their consumption forever suspended in time, never to be realised.”
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