Speaking to an artist can create a cocktail of emotions. We have our own hopes and expectations of what they will have to say about their work. Have we interpreted it correctly? Were they expressing the values we had ourselves seen?
Hearing the thoughts behind the visuals is both inspiring and bewildering. How is it some minds can make links that others simply cannot fathom?
Mark Demsteader is a leading figurative artist of Great Britain. His work is a mix of classic form painting combined with a modern perspective.
Born in Manchester 1963, his first rendezvous with art came during a school trip to Paris. As he walked through the halls of the Louvre, he gained a newfound passion that would turn into a successful, and influential career.
“I worked for many years in the family butchery business, which was as far away from the art world as you could get…I went to life drawing classes in the evenings and eventually learned to draw. This gave me the idea to take the train to London and see if anyone was interested, and what feedback I could get… Eventually a gallery owner in Blackheath offered to put some of my work in a mixed show he was having. I put in 6 paintings which sold on the first day, so I resigned from my job the next day and that was the moment I started a new career.”
His work is bold, and often involves a limited use of colour, which leads the eye immediately drawn and held to the forms he paints.
There are unflinching reds, and interesting finishes on the work. On one of his portraits of Emma Watson for example, there is a drip effect around her neck. And another painting from the ‘Moorlands’ collection where the body has paint almost scratching its contours.
These works are extremely expressive, and in my eyes are paintings of emotion and personality.
These paintings describe the feeling of their models. It is a guess who of sentiment. The faces are shrouded in mystery. There is a strong element of storytelling in each piece; a tale in the eyes of the subject that the viewer wants to know. But look for yourself and, construct your own analysis.
“I don’t really see the models as any particular gender as I have painted many male figures as well but my style seems to suit the female form better, not sure why that is, but it’s not something I give a great deal of thought to. I don’t think of conveying anything in particular but I like to leave the viewers to make up their own minds on the work.”
Perhaps this is what we need from art now. Rather than being told what to feel being given the opportunity to come to our own conclusion. Independently observing life around us and life we live through, as opposed to following a leader.
My final question was: How has the role of an artist changed?
“I don’t think artists these days are as important as they were once held up to be. Previously a painting was the only image reference that was available, as there was no TV or photography. I think we live in a world of image saturation and peoples attention span is so short when looking at images, I try to leave my work open to interpretation. Maybe slowing down the brain, and looking at an image for longer than you would normally is a way to notice the world around you a bit more, so that might not be a bad thing.”
In conclusion. The works of Mark Demsteader are unique and significant. They express a thought less explored, and give anyone who looks at them a sense of freedom and reason to deliberate. His next exhibition will be with Panter and Hall, London, for the Ophelia exhibition.
http://www.panterandhall.com/exhibitions the gallery.
https://www.markdemsteader.com for Marks website.