MARK JESSETT

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Friday, 4 October 2019
CAFÉ GALLERY, EXETER PHOENIX
Art
art file

MY HEART REMEMBERS THINGS THAT MY HEAD HAS NEVER KNOWN (AND OTHER WORKS)

Mark Jessett is a contemporary abstract painter, specialising in works on paper. He was born in Oxford and studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths’ College, London. Mark is a co-founder of contemporary art group N-E-W, staging occasional events and exhibitions in Ashburton, Devon, where he lives and works.

Painting in acrylic on carefully selected papers (which are meticulously pasted to board), he overlays colours in very fine films, often with shimmering metallics and flat solids, to explore relationships between colour, surface texture, translucency and opacity.

While there are no set themes or narratives in the works, their ‘feel’ is guided by an appreciation for early 20th century children’s illustration, the stylistic representation of magic and the esoteric in print, outdated presentations in local museums, and folkloric artefacts and symbols. Artistic references include Thomas Gainsborough and Kerstin Brätsch.

The paintings fall into groups built around visual or conceptual themes; Flags (his most representational and gestural works), Ceremonials (monumental forms or edifices, usually ‘hanging’ from the top edge), Specimens (organic, experimental) and Minerals (rock-like, often stratified, metallic and angular forms which suggest – but do not represent – minerals and precious metals). Mark also produces occasional, stand-alone installations.

Mark describes his process as one of making problematic beginnings then ‘editing’. “I have to challenge my own rules and habits otherwise the work becomes tight and dull. I try hard to unsettle myself; if I’m reluctant to use a certain mark or colour combination, then I’ll force myself to do it. Then it’s a matter of making sense of the painting and pulling it into shape. A successful painting, I feel, is a balance between beautiful ‘moments’ and a coherent whole”.