ABOUT ARTIST, MARK SHARP
Mark Sharp’s new series of mixed media works have a certain allure that is as much related to the interlocking forms as it is to the materials used. Fabrics, for one, have a distinct relevance to humans as they are utilized in the manufacturing of clothing and furnishings – two basic staples of life. Textiles in general can remind us of events, times of the year, even long forgotten relationships just by their color or the shapes that comprise their patterns. In the case of Sharp’s paintings, we see the making of an abstraction whereby a variety of rather divergent key elements, when combined with painted surfaces, suggest their own individual narratives within the larger whole. That whole, which can be filled with a number of effects including the fabrics, can put forth any number of scenarios. In doing so, Sharp is telling us that patterns and symbols have both covert and overt meanings and that when they are placed in a new context the difference between the hidden and the known or preconceived is altered.
Even the shapes he employs, when cutting the fabrics before mounting them, can subtly suggest face-to-face human interaction. With both Untitled 2245 (2016) and Untitled 2247 (2016) you have what looks like two ambiguous individuals sporting hats, making friendly contact. Whereas, with Untitled 2249 (2016) you have a composition that is more mysterious, perhaps hinting to the beginning of a journey or an anxious moment without having any recognizable references, at least to this viewer.
Untitled 2246 (2016) is like 2245 and 2247 in two ways. All three are the largest works in the series and each one has distinct forms indicating that there are people present in the narrative. With 2246 it is an arm bent at the elbow, perhaps signifying the mid-section of a woman in the middle of a crowded cocktail party who is momentarily liberated from her previous exchange. What makes 2246 different from the other two is that there is no distinct or concrete interaction between two or more individuals. The ‘woman’ in 2246 is in between conversations as she listens and looks for her next best available option for pleasing conversation.
All of the above commentary is my own read. Sharp may never have intended there be anything as specific as I have concluded. What is happening here is a communication between two minds. All successful art is a form of communication whether it is a hypothetical narrative or a feeling or emotion, something must come across from the artist to the viewer. For instance, with Untitled 2243 (2016) I feel comfort; Untitled 2239 (2016) makes me anxious; Untitled 2241 (2016) somehow reminds me of my younger days playing ‘Hide and Seek’, while Untitled 2250 (2016) has a feeling of unresolved issues or misunderstandings that may bring on confrontation or long sought after resolution to a previously insurmountable problem.
The more you look at Sharp’s work the more you will read into it and the more complex your conclusions will be. We all have our own references, sights, sounds and symbols that bring us someplace else in our thoughts. Great art should embrace that fact; and it is that open-ended, enticing, even playful quality that makes Sharp’s art poignant and timeless.
– D. Dominick Lombardi