2017, purchased 2018, ©Urs Fischer,
courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London. Photograph by Stefan Altenburger.

This work, a huge candle by the Swiss-born artist Urs Fischer, has only recently been acquired for the national art collection. Over several months the constant heat of candle flame reduces this sculpture to debris, to be recast and burnt again. Francesco depicts the lauded Italian art curator Francesco Bonami standing on top of an open refrigerator, stacked with fruit and vegetables, looking down at his smartphone — a pose emblematic of our contemporary era. Set in a continuous cycle of melting and recasting, Francesco is ignited as a figurative portrait and extinguished as anti-form abstraction. For Jaklyn Babington, senior curator, contemporary art, “this exquisite metamorphosis evokes the grains of time sliding through an hourglass and stands as an allusion to life flickering for a mere moment in history”. See this work, and the rest of the national collection, in Canberra.