We’re introducing something a little new.
Each month we will select a country to deliver details on it’s top-ranking artists. To begin this journey, we introduce the top-ranked male and female artist from New Zealand.
Simon Denny, Ranked 243 Globally, and No. 1 in New Zealand. and Francis Upritchard Ranked 1394 globally, and No.3 in New Zealand. As with a number of artistic antipodeans, the two creatives live in Europe, rather than their faraway magical homeland.
Denny is based in Berlin and uses installation, sculpture, print and video to “unpack the social and political implications of the technology industry and the rise of social media, startup culture, blockchain and cryptocurrency.” A perfect example of this, and a shining moment, was his solo exhibition “Scrutiny Through Obscurity” at the Altman Siegel Gallery in San Francisco in January 2020. The show succeeds to emblematize the utter hypocrisy of an ever-growing global inequality powered forward by the free market; by combining, of all things, Margaret Thatcher’s actual scarves with Patagonia vests.
Upritchard is based in London and focuses on figurative sculpture. Her figures, fluidly move through different time periods and cultures, resisting simple categorisation or straightforward readings. The Intuitive artist who enjoys working on a human scale, had a stunning highlight solo exhibition “Wetwang Slack” at the Curve gallery in the Barbican in 2018. Where she coloured in the underlying theme of archaeology, like a child with free reign in a craft room, but with the skills of an artisan.
Both have represented New Zealand at the Venice Biennale- in two entirely contrasting installations; Upritchard in 2009 with “Save Yourself”, and Denny with “Secret Power” in 2015.
Comparing our pie charts the two have a very similar percentage dispersion of museum and gallery shows, and on our trends charts, when looking at their full career, they have a very similar ranking trajectory. Although Denny’s ranking accelerated past Upritchard in 2012- perhaps due to a number of solo shows, including his first solo show in New York City at the Friedrich Petzel Gallery (ranked 135 globally).
The two artists approach their work from completely different angles and arrive at entirely different destinations. Upritchard creates first, working from feeling, and theorizes later. Denny contrarily formulates his ideas first, and produces second. With both methods, their distinct touch is clear, as is their success.
Look out next month for the following edition of a country’s top artists, and let us know if there is somewhere specific you would like to learn about.
Let’s make history happen.
The Artfacts Team