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Art Wed Aug 12 2009
"Untitled," by Mark Hansen, is the third in a series of five works to be featured during Chicago Week, a collaboration between Gapers Block and the Rockford-based arts purveyor Wall Blank. Each image will be available for one week as a limited edition print through Wall Blank. 10% of the proceeds of all sales will benefit the Chicago Artists' Coalition. Check back every day this week for a new piece by and interview with a Chicago artist.
"Untitled," acrylic and oil on canvass, 62.5" x 47.5", 2009
"In 'Untitled,' I am acknowledging my direct references to architecture, the grid and hand painted signs. By working with the themes of slipping, breaking, tension and gravity, I am interested in manipulating form and space as a means of blurring the line between object and abstraction."
Interview with the Artist
Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your artistic background?
I was born in 1978 in Elgin, Illinois. Growing up, my mother was an art teacher, so for me, there has always been an interest in art. I graduated from Augustana College (Rock Island, Illinois) in 2000 with a BA in Studio Art and Art History. After school, I worked in a gallery for a bit and then got into graphic design -- all the while, I was keeping an active painting and studio practice. I recently received my MA in Painting from Northern Illinois University.
How did you start working in paint, and how has your relationship with it evolved over time?
I started working with paint seriously in college. Initially it was acrylic and then for a while I was working exclusively with oil paint. Early on, my work was very figurative and representational. I think that once I started working with abstraction, I developed a relationship with paint, and the painting process; that for me was not only more interesting and engaging, but has been lasting. For a couple years, I was doing mixed media works on paper -- which was nice because it allowed me to incorporate drawing tools and other sources -- but in the end, I think the work was less direct. I have recently returned to painting, in the traditional sense, and have been happy with this decision.
How does being in Chicago influence your artistic practice?
I would say that my work is influenced as much by the Chicago landscape as it is the formal language of abstraction. I think there is a certain disparity about Chicago's physical build that is hard to ignore. While taking note of the city's neglected and fragile architecture, I am interested in creating parallels and plays between the physical process of painting and the vulnerabilities of the built environment.
Your subjects, while abstract, contain considerable volume. How do you translate three dimensional objects onto a two dimensional plane?
I'll do drawings of various 3 dimensional forms and formations that eventually get worked and layered into my paintings. Sometimes these forms are simplified quite a bit before they make it into a painting and I will often take takes bits and pieces of different drawings to make new constructs. There is something unnatural about these hybrid forms that I am really drawn to.
What can we expect to see in the coming months?
I currently have a piece in the Joseph Frasca Memorial Works on Paper Competition at Around the Coyote, which runs through August 15th. As for the coming months, I plan to keep working and hopefully continuing to show.
About the Artist
Mark Hansen recently received his MA in Painting from Northern Illinois University. Mark's work has been included in exhibitions throughout the Midwest and most recently in the 2nd Annual Joseph Frasca Memorial Works on Paper Competition at Around the Coyote in Chicago. Visit his website for more work and background.