Is it possible to care about a tea cup? A discarded newspaper somebody’s shoe? Or feel familiarity with objects you’ve never seen before? The un-blinking attention and great affection with which Mark paints suggests an ongoing narrative which intrigues and invites you in.
And once in, you arrive, as it were, in the middle of things. If there’s a door it’s usually open; if there’s a window, the movement of the curtain suggests a breeze blowing through it, reminding you of the outside world. You find yourself wondering what’s just happened, or about to happen, who’s just been in the room, or why that person is looking askance/surprised/off to the left. You feel invited in by these open apertures so that you observe his paintings not so much as an outsider but as a friend in the same room or space.
Mark looks long and hard and with great clarity at his subjects but manages somehow to suggest the immediacy of a glance. Scattered objects carry weight not symbolic but emotional, so that what seems incidental becomes telling. Anyone who’s ever sneeked a look inside a new girlfriend or boyfriend’s bookshelves or medical cabinet knows this implicity; you can learn as much from one glance at a private space as you can from several hours in a public one. So he puts his faith in miscellaneous objects and our imagination.
Then there’s the light. He’s interested in it, not just as a vital source, but as an additional character, which, again makes his paintings so present. He captures the fleeting moment the light hits the glass or face and makes it vivid and integral; alive.
But the thing I really love about Mark’s paintings is that, whether it’s a particular gesture, object, the angle of a hand, somebody’s back, Mark see’s things other people don’t see but - and this is his genius - once he captures them you realise you thought you were the only person to have noticed the light on a tree that way, or the way that person lowers their head, and you have an uncanny sense of something you knew all along, but had never expressed. He notices everything, but finds the essence in the details, has a respectful intimacy with his subjects, captures the salient moment and always paints with a gorgeous but unsentimental warmth.
Indian Rubber Plant 2008
Playright Tamsin Oglesby wrote this essay on the occasion of my 2010 exhibition at Long & Ryle Gallery in London
TAMSIN OGLESBY is currently under commission to the National Theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Company and Hampstead Theatre. Her latest play, Really Old Like 45, premiered at The National Theatre in January 2010, it was a sell-out success and was nominated for the whatsonstage.com award for Best New Comedy.