“There’s a comfort that hirsutism and fur textures communicate,” he tells us. “These textures are metaphors that explore the psyche in images.”
For Erik, his work is much more than a fuzz-covered visual treat. The materiality and the means of expressing oneself on a canvas are for him a means “to investigate the psyche inside the images”. He adds, “The material used allows for a depth of illusionism on the reflective epoxy surface, which evokes the ideas of the paintings. The figurative forms refer to characters found in digital environments and observations of contemporary life.”
Based in Los Angeles, Mark moved to the area to study at the Art Center College of Design and has remained there ever since. He started as a freelance illustrator before moving on to exhibitions: “The transfer of ideas through the exhibition of physical works allowed different negotiations between me and the viewer”, he shares. These conversations are drawn from the contemporary environment and culture, particularly the “California dreamy vibe” that appears repeatedly in his work. “The work reflects an observational type of zeitgeist of everyday life in Los Angeles and being online,” he continues. That’s why the palettes are so colorful, tinted by the rays of the infamous Los Angeles sky.
In an image called The Conversation, created for a solo exhibition called Interlude, Erik explores themes of rest, loneliness, youth culture and love in modern times. Awash in pastel green, you’ll see a teddy bear design sitting next to a woman. The two are perched in a car among a formation of trees and branches. “Automotive interiors can be a sanctuary for private speech and an extension of identity,” shares Erik. “Therefore, the automotive interiors of the paintings function as physical and psychological prostheses.”
While creating the piece, Erik says the color choices were intuitive and refined later during development. He also says that the artwork has a layer of epoxy resin cast on top. “Once cured, a more refined paint finish occurs to give depth to the surface of the hair and fur texture.” Then, in the final phase, Erik designed and hand-fired a layer of translucent blue screen printing of raindrops, covering the panel to “create more surface detail” when viewed in real life.
Erik’s process is fascinating and powered by a mix of analog and digital techniques. He describes it as “long, unhealthy painting marathons,” aided by technology that quickens the pace of planning and construction. Currently working on a new series of paintings for an upcoming solo show later this year in Los Angeles, we can’t wait to see where Erik takes his practice next.