From his beginnings in Sydney Australia, Mark Whalen has evolved into an artist whose meticulously crafted paintings and sculptures examine the human experience by exploring invention, communication, emotion, sexuality, interaction and ritual – all with an undercurrent of quiet absurdity.
“My work is a constant catalog of human activity, but being stationary, or ‘settled’ in one place inspired the work in 'Stranded'. It explores different human interactions that take place in the modern world, and within defined interior spaces -- playing, fighting, experimenting, creating, cultivating, dreaming, and destroying. Ideologies at work and how they effect this interaction are a big part of my work.” – Mark Whalen
As an extension of his painting practice, the artist has taken cues from various cultural traditions to present a series of modern pictorial ceramic vessels which will be exhibited for the first time. Just as pottery comprised a large part of the archaeological record of Ancient Greece, and were in some ways the best guide we have to the customary life and mind of the populace, Whalen has modified the practice of function vs. design, and placed his own archeological record amongst a grand tradition of the past. Design elements feature strongly, reminding one of a bizarre blend of art-deco tiles and Matisse’s pattern-scapes.
Whalen’s line precision and growing color palette is enhanced by the introduction of light, caution and arousal, making the interaction of his subjects more accentuated and accessible. Thick, seductive layers of clear, glossy resin create a post-modern plane for the artist to explore spatial possibilities and relativity within the narrative. According to the artist, “Life is a series of rooms, and in here and out there are all of these interconnected states of being. There’s room for the viewer to project emotion and meaning onto the images. Peace or violence, hope or despair – it’s an open story.”
This is a stunning new body of work that you should stop by and check out in person.
Merry Karnowsky Gallery
Through May 3rd 2014