Artist Interview and Studio Visit: Mark Jackson
I first came across Mark Jackson's work at Block 336 in Brixton, south London, back in 2017. His solo exhibition, 'Face is the Closest', found me at a particularly difficult time in my personal life, and I certainly wasn't expecting to receive any respite from the art I was going to see. However the combination of abstracted faces and soothing, incredibly pleasing palettes seemed to transport me to a different place. The recognisable outlines of portraiture were there, but a rejection of realism in the paintings helped me think about how I might escape from my situation. It wasn't until a few months later that I was able to do so, but this subtle, and still beautiful, way of defying reality has stuck with me since.
Five years later, I contacted Mark about an interview and was delighted to be invited to visit his studio in south London. We discussed the mark-making and textures in his practice, and the different directions he has taken since the 2017 exhibition.
Your paintings are so powerful to me. Even though the paintings I'm seeing now [in your studio] are much bigger and generally darker than the ones I saw back in 2017, they're certainly distinctively authored by you. But I can see that you've been working in different mediums, can you talk a bit about that?
For some reason I’ve always backed the underdog; maybe there’s more suspense that way, things seem more dramatic. And painting is now, culturally speaking, the underdog in terms of what can capture the imagination. So the challenge of making something that can really grab someone is quite inspiring to me. I see very few new paintings that feel to me that they really need to exist. It’s hard! But some people can do it, and they inspire me to find a parallel place for myself: Rita Ackermann, Daniel Hesidence, Richard Aldrich…