Mark Demsteader – Emma Coccioli intervista l’artista

mark demsteader

Mark Demsteader: Emma Coccioli intervista l’artista per Milano Arte Expo

Nato a Manchester, Mark Demsteader è considerato, secondo il Daily Telegraph, “one of Britain’s best-selling figurative painters” – uno dei pittori figurativi inglesi più conosciuti. Ha studiato al Rochdale College, all’ Oldham College ed alla Slade School of Art di Londra. Nella sua lunga carriera ha vinto diversi premi tra cui The Lyceum Prize e The Sidney Andrews Scholarship. Mark Demsteader ritrae immagini femminili ispirate al passato come al presente, immagini sospese nel tempo, spesso fuori fuoco. Nonostante i richiami al mondo della moda siano molto evidenti, alcuni dipinti si distinguono per la bellezza delicata dei volti come dei corpi rappresentati.

It has already been said that your painting is inspired by light and by the expressions on the faces depicted by Rembrendt and Degas; “Mark Demsteader’s process, however, is quite different from that of classical painters. Rather than rely solely on brushes and palette knives, he builds up layers and textures, oftern using his hands to manipulate the image” ( I, personally, find also a certain affinity with Delacroix. Strange that these should all be French. Which contemporary artists do you admire and why?

I admire many contemporary painters and also painters from history, the main ones are Odd Nerdrum, Hughie o Donoghue, Egon Schiele and Rembrandt. I find these artists are concerned with an emotional response to the way they work and their usage of line and colour appeal to me.

This is a painting I particularly love. A painting that impresses sentimentally without touching plain and simple emotions. Like a snapshot that brings to mind a dream or a memory, it is unclear and in motion. The painting is physical, soft, the colors warm and therefore real. Can you tell us something about this work?

mark demsteader

I was looking at some old photographs from around 1900 and was trying to get a feel of a time that has passed and faded, but it is also relevant to modern day.

I quote a statement of yours: “the figure is more of a metaphor for a human being, it doesn’t have to be a particular person”. Your images may be considered somehow abstract as pertaining to an Idea, to a primordial and substantial essence (this being the original meaning of the Greek word ἰδέα). I notice you often use strong touches of red and light blue in addition to the yellow. As the psycoanalist James Hillman points out the light blue can be associated to the alchemic significanze of the soul. I quote: “Light blue [azure]: a poetic invention dripped down from the vault of heaven and then spread into many descriptive tones and shades of blue (indigo, ultramarine, cerulean, turquoise, cobalt, Prussian…) but escaping the capture of the mind, like the blue of the wings of certain birds, the blue of the sky, the tremulous blue of the moving waves of the sea. No blue materially exists; it’s all in the mind”. What is your concept of soul?

I think colour is linked with emotion very strongly. I try to use it to make the viewer react in an abstract emotional way. I try to avoid any literal meaning and leave the questions unanswered. I like to think this way with music as well. It is designed to make you feel a response which is emotional.

mark demsteader

mark demsteader

Mark Demsteader - On Being Human

Mark Demsteader – On Being Human

There is a sort of connection to the world of fashion photography. What do you think of the fashion world? What fascinates you about it and what do you dislike? Why do you think the search for ideal beauty has gone so easily to photography and to cinema and lastly to Photoshop? What more can painting do? Where should we seek the soul?

I think fashion photography is a modern way of describing a state of mind: they use extreme images to show the model looking almost tragic but highlighting the fragility of beauty. I think painting can also do this but it seems to be done in a destructive way with painters today. I think beauty in contemporary art is an ugly word.

Melancholy. I recall the “sweet oblivion” is a light vein of sadness that fills soul giving it depht and orienting it towards peace and introspection. Melancholy, however, is different from sadness since a melancholic person is in a state of conscious impotency, close to depression and turned towards the past. The four basic humours (black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and, lastly, blood or red humour) or the “liquids” (from the Greek ygrós, wet humour) that the ancient Greek recognized represented different states of being. Here, again, we have the colors which you use most. Black, yellow, red. The flowing of color give a sense of wetness. Are you melancholic? Are you attracted to melancholic personalities or do you concentrate all the melancholy on your work?

mark demsteader

mark demsteader

I think melancholy describes being human and whilst we aim for beauty we are always aware of loss. I am currently working on a show titled Et In Arcadia Ego (which was a latin phrase used in art and was translated as “even in Arcadia I am here”) referring to death`s existing in a place of paradise. I find this idea fascinating.

Mark Demsteader-oil on canvas girl

Mark Demsteader-oil on canvas girl

Intervista di Emma Coccioli a Mark Demsteader per Milano Arte Expo

Leggi anche le altre interviste di Emma Coccioli per il magazine.

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