Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Preview of Washing The Dust, October 28 - November 19, 2016

For the CATALOGUE ESSAY for this exhibition, 
scroll down.


Watching The Outer Limits, 2016, 
mixed media on panel, 28 1/2 x 42 in., $3,000

The Commute, 2016, mixed media on panel, 
39 x 125 in., $9,500

The Day Job, 2016, mixed media on panel, 
33 1/2 x 53 1/2 in., $4,500

The History of Paint, 2016, 
mixed media on panel, 12 x 25 in., $750/SOLD

The Landscape Painter, 2016, mixed media on panel, 
32 x 55 1/2 in., $4,500

The Liberty of Art, 2016, mixed media on panel, 
20 3/4 x 55 3/4 in., $3,000

The Residency, 2016, 
mixed media on panel, 10 x 46 in., $1,150

The Caregiver, 2016, mixed media on panel, 
16 x 22 1/2 in., $900/SOLD

Tapas, 2016, mixed media on panel, 
10 x 41 1/2 in., $1,050

Remembering Barcelona, 2016, mixed media on panel, 
11 1/4 x 43 1/4 in., $1,250

Relocation, 2016, mixed media on panel, 
36 x 32 in., $2,800

Formal Relationships, 2016, mixed media on panel, 
27 1/2 x 24 in., $1,650

Corey, 2016, mixed media on panel, 12 x 25 in., $750

Barcelona #2, 2016, mixed media on panel, 
10 x 17 in., $500

Barcelona #3, 2016, mixed media on panel, 
10 1/2 x 16 in., $500

Barcelona #4, 2016, mixed media on panel, 
10 x 22 3/4 in., $550/SOLD

Barcelona #5, 2016, mixed media on panel, 
9 3/4 x 16 1/4 in., $500

Barcelona #6, 2016, mixed media on panel, 
9 3/4 x 15 3/4 in., $500

Between Form and Illusion, 2016, mixed media on panel, 
16 x 22 1/2 in., $1,950

 After The Nap, 2016, 
mixed media on panel, 
23 x 15 in., $850/SOLD

Albany Flight, 2016, mixed media on panel, 
21 x 60 in., $3,150

Barcelona #1, 2016, mixed media on panel, 
10 x 19 in.,  $500












































































 


























































































           MARK FLOWERS’ VISUAL POETRY                                          By Wim Roefs

During a nine-day trip to Barcelona in March 2016, Mark Flowers had the time to observe and explore an entirely new environment without having to rush. That heightened his senses. The combination of old and contemporary struck him, as when a man parked his Vespa, took off a wheel and in its place hooked up a contraption that he powered with his ride. The contraption was to sharpen knives, it turned out, and that’s what the man did, old-world style with new-world resources, right there on the side of the city street. Barcelona was fertile soil for Flowers, as the Barcelona paintings in the current exhibition show, although the Vespa didn’t make it into a work. “Not sure why,” Flower says. “It was a good memory, just not good enough for a painting memory.”
Flowers applies to visual art what writers often are told to do: write about what they know. Certainly in his case that also includes “see.” His mixed media works with irregular shapes and two- and three-dimensional elements are typically steeped in literal experiences though not literal in their narration. Flowers thinks of the work as “visual poetry,” and he likes the Picasso quote that “the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”
“They are shaped works that are objects and images at the same time,” Flowers says. “I often use visual elements in a sequence, not unlike how a filmmaker creates a narrative. The separate images come together to make a whole. They are brief observations of my life in a static form.” While the totality of his oeuvre might not amount to a visual-arts memoir per se, it does provide a glossary of experiences hinted at, associated with, departed from, played off, played with, mused about.
“But the work is not a pictorial observation as much as maybe a metaphorical one. They are little observations about life that become sparks for other things you create. I am hopefully ambiguous enough that I invite the viewers to participate and perhaps find common ground. I find it interesting to see what they read into it.”
            The Landscape Painter relates to Flowers being the son of a painter, Upstate South Carolina mainstay Tom Flowers, known for his landscapes. Elements of being that son come together in a single work as Flowers the younger, whose landscapes are seldom obviously landscapes, ponders his place in the bigger scheme of things. “I am at that age now,” he says. “Maybe they are mental landscapes, maybe poetic landscapes, maybe a synthesis of landscapes.”
The immediate impetus for The Landscape Painter was Flowers’ stint this summer at the Golden Artist Residency program in the rolling hills of central New York. “The lush greens and cultured landscapes couldn’t help but sneak into at least one work,” Flowers says. The availability of any color of acrylic paint he could imagine facilitated the process, and so he reached for green, a color he rarely uses.
            Albany Flight recalls the memorable flight from Albany, N.Y., back from the Golden residency. Painted arrows on the tarmac, a passenger with a service monkey. “The newness of it,” Flowers says. “I had never seen a service monkey. It was probably someone trying to get a monkey on board instead of in a box. Flying allows me to be the ultimate voyeur as humanity crosses itself. And this day did not disappoint.”
            The residency also triggered The History Of Paint. Each individual paint swatch at Golden Paints is created by hand, with residue ending up on protective mats, creating a literal paint history. Flowers asked for and received some of the mats and used them in several pieces, including some about workers at Golden. The Residency addresses the sacrifices it took for Flowers and his wife, book art pioneer and filmmaker Kristy Higby, as he spent four weeks away from home. After the summer, Higby’s recovery from knee replacement had a bigger emotional component than Flowers had anticipated. The Caregiver is about that.
            For his exhibitions, Flowers puts together a binder that includes images of the work in the exhibition along with short write-ups. After The Nap, he wrote, is about the beauty of a nap to resolve a painting he is stuck on. The Commute is about the 75-mile trip to his part-time job at Spartanburg’s University of South Carolina Upstate, a drastic change from teaching for 23 years at a boarding school where the job was across the street. The Day Job is about the dream, forever deferred, of not having one. There is a painting about the “snow” created by the poor reception on the family’s TV when Flowers was a child that made the faces in the sci-fi show Outer Limits especially creepy. Relocation is about the emotional experience of moving his 88-year-old dad from his beloved home in the Dacusville, S.C., foothills to nearby Greenville.
Some works are about art and making art. Between Form and Illusion is about physical shape and illusion being in the same place, which has intrigued Flowers since his student days at the University of South Carolina, and the influence of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. Formal Relationships addresses a more general experience of the artist trying to resolve exactly those in his work. 
            Flowers’ work truly is mixed media. On wood panels, he paints, attaches pieces of wood, painted or not, as well as other objects. He applies transfers of his own or found photos, often painting on them, like those in the Barcelona paintings of skateboarders, photographed through a window at MACBA, the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona. The shapes of his works are typically irregular, with different-sized, flat planes attached to each other, creating negative spaces between, above or underneath them that give the work an object-like, sculptural feel. Borders adorned with straight or not so straight, even wave-like pieces of wood enhance the sculptural element and add tension between the works’ playful and formal qualities.
            The grid formation has been evident in Flowers’ work for a long time. “When I was a student, everyone was doing grid paintings,” he says. “Those are primal influences, and I am still hanging in there. That’s our educational DNA.” In recent years, the grid might have become more pronounced as Flowers increasingly has been working in modules. Rather than putting together one work at a time with different planes and such, he has been creating large amounts of individual sections, not knowing which ones he’ll put together in which order for which work of art. What triggered this method in part was seeing the visual storyboards at the bottom of his wife’s desktop computer when she is creating a digital video. The approach really took flight during his residency at Golden, where logistics, i.e. plenty of space, allowed Flowers to spread out large numbers of panels from which to pick and choose as he constructed the individual works of art. This approach also allows Flowers to concentrate on the surface of each module, thinking in parts rather than about the end result, the whole. “Gestalt, perhaps,” he says.
            “What is true for all of these is that I am trying to find that place that makes visual sense,” Flowers says. “There is a poetic coming together of images that appeals to me, like sentences for a poem. It’s like finding a place where chaos and order make sense, not by neutralizing each other but by working with each other.”
            Even when he doesn’t work in modules and knows what the painting will look like, Flowers likes “the surprises that happen along the way. That’s my privilege, my joy. When they hang on the wall, they become their own thing. But I also like not knowing the ending, the mystery of putting together the individual parts. You create the journey by making the parts, but then I get to create the ending. That’s the privilege for me as an artist, creating the ending, and that’s the difference between the artist and the viewer.”
Viewers creating their own endings through interpretation doesn’t change that, Flowers says. “The viewer will not be in the studio, won’t get to the point where each artist wants to get to: ‘Oh, this works?’ Some artists think the final part of art is that it has to be seen, but to me the viewing is another, internal action by the viewer. I would still make the work if no one would see it. I get more out of making it than from putting it on the wall. The check from a sale cannot duplicate the experience of making the work.” The Liberty of Art is about the freedom Flowers feels when he makes art. “Drifting in a boat,” he wrote, “and trusting where it takes me.”

                             
                     Wim Roefs is the owner of if ART Gallery

No comments:

Post a Comment