July 10, 2014

Albuquerque IQ review by Katherine Oostman, June 25, 2014

Mark Horst: Figures and More
Wednesday, 25 June 2014

By Katherine Oostman

The ability to see comes from light reflecting off surfaces, entering the eye and twisting together until the brain recognizes a shape and assigns it a name and use. Mark Horst uses this anatomical phenomenon and translates it into his vision as a painter.
The internationally known artist has been presenting exhibits featuring confident colors, candid figures and simple situations since 2007. Each piece resembles distorted photography as Horst creates perspective from the light and shapes what the eye absorbs, leaving room for his viewer’s brain to decide how the image and its elements fit into the world. 
“I paint the way I see — which is always incomplete and in process,” Horst says in his artist statement. “The more I look, the more there is to observe. The world opens up and flowers; the mud takes form.”
Just as light enters into the eye and reveals shape, Horst’s art takes the light, creates shape and reveals beauty.

April 9, 2014

some new work

"injambakkam no. 1" oil on canvas. 30" x 30"
I'm working on a series of paintings using some images from the time I spent at Cholamandal Artist's Village in Tamil Nadu last month. We rented studio space from the painter, Vishwanadhan.  Right now, I'm comfortable letting the image rest in this ambiguity.

saatchi interview

October 30, 2013


I paint.
Paint is what I use to pay attention to the world.
Earth and oil; sometimes buttery, sometimes grainy, gritty.
But it's a medium--a via--a path toward representing how I see.
Why hide it: these clumps and drips and ridges and smears?
the holy family no. 24

October 4, 2013

what does love see?

"meditation on Rembrandt's Portrait of Vaters" conte and pastel on paper. 22" x 30"

Modernism’s eye can be unkind. I think of Diane Arbus’ crisp clean portraits of the world’s strangers. To me they feel clinical, curious and detached.

But love’s gaze must be equally specific. Love doesn’t generalize.

I see this man: lines extending from his mouth to his jaw; wrinkles around his eyes when he smiles; the hollow in his neck just behind the left jaw; the way he blinks and stutters just a bit; the way he rolls the “r”s when he says “corrida.”

To me the portraiture of love is not generalized; does not cover over the particular or the blemished or the scarred—because these are the very features that identify this particular person and which—in love—are more important than some abstract, ideal view of beauty or elegance.

September 27, 2013

"Analyzing Portraits: Obtaining A Glimpse of the Self" by Dylan Cullen

Dylan Cullen wrote this essay in response to a drawing I did recently. I like the way he thinks with the image; the way he allows the art to guide his examination of what it means to be alive.

"glimpses no. 1" conte on paper. 22" x 30" 2013

When I think of the self, I acknowledge that it is a process and not a product, an abstraction and not a reality; a developing truth that feeds off of fear and yearning. Straight from the womb we are blank canvases, and yet life experiences, the trials and the triumphs, add strokes of various colors, textures, and intensities upon who we are. Mark Horst, an artist from Albuquerque, New Mexico works synergistically with his paints as a way of pointing towards “the fleeting, the glimpsed, to[wards] the life that is always present and so difficult to touch” (Horst). Through his portrayal of a young man in a drawing entitled Glimpses No. 1, Horst explores the incomplete and dynamic nature of portraiture and, by extension, the self. For Horst, painting provides “an invitation to explore the world and ourselves” (Horst), and his work provides us with the opportunity to capture glimpses of ourselves through the portrayal of others.

As I look upon the piece, I appreciate Horst’s authoritative command over light and dark, his ability to carve the boy’s features and emotions out of nothingness, his choice to convey more than what is conceivable through the omission of color. The pastel drawing appears to follow the progression of a boy’s identity over a condensed period of time. One could argue that Horst began to sketch the boy and became dissatisfied with the portrayal, thus moving over on the page to try again. This correlates to our opinions of ourselves: we hold ourselves to certain truths, grow to find those truths inaccurate in the current moment, and must begin once again the arduous pilgrimage of self discovery. While the two sketches of the boy can be considered very similar, the slight variations in shadow, smudging, and shape suggest that we do not necessarily always change drastically, however, we are forever changing in minute ways as if we are constantly struggling between a comfort with who we are and a desire to be someone else.

By giving the work of art the name Glimpses No. 1, not only does Horst admit that his drawing represents a mere fraction of the boy’s identity, but he concedes a volatility to his work: the boy’s identity will change over time, and so will Horst’s perceptions of the boy. Additionally, the drawing is simply Glimpse No. 1 in a series of snapshots to come and is by no means a definitive portrait. We see this straightaway through the artist’s two drawings of the boy on the same piece of paper, the second portrayal being more complete in some ways and more starved in others. The medium that Horst chose to use for this piece is also very telling about the journey of the self. While Horst mentioned his love for painting in his biography, he chose to draw this piece using pastels. As exemplified by the artist’s use of pastels, some parts of ourselves are stagnant, for example one’s overall sense that they are a continuous entity, while other parts of ourselves are smudged, erased, and altered over time. Horst’s use of pastels, a delicately magnetic medium, symbolizes the depth of identity and its subsequently dynamic nature. Additionally, pastels produce very honest colors: out of any artistic medium, the pigments produced by pastels are most like those found in nature.

The self can be thought of as an agglomeration of shallow pools, each one holding a tiny portion of one’s existence. When brought together, however, these pools form a murky pond whose depth is uncertain and whose terrain is vastly unexplored. Searching for a definition of human identity in Horst’s drawing is vague, transitional, and looks different through each of our eyes. Similarly, searching for ourselves in such places takes time, patience, and a willingness to unearth the unknown. Horst’s artwork lets us know that who we are as humans is not defined by how others perceive us, nor by who we are in a singular moment, but rather by a carousel of selves that we accumulate along the path of life.

August 7, 2013

painting and life no. 2

one of Francis Bacon's screaming popes.

“everything that’s alive is in motion”

Any painting that hopes to bring life to an image must do more that accurately represent a subject. But this idea of motion does not mean that an image cannot be balanced or centered. A spinning top is in motion but it doesn’t wobble until it’s ready to fall.

I’ve had a fondness for paintings that blur an image, but I think it’s a mistake to assume that blurring is the only way to represent the motion that goes with life.

In fact, Francis Bacon’s blurring of faces, seems to me to be something like a top in it’s final rotation. His faces are distortions of life, intimations of anguish or death.

August 5, 2013

all is a procession...

(All is a procession,
The universe is a procession with measured and perfect motion.)

from “I Sing the Body Electric” Walt Whitman

painting and life no. 1

“Everything that’s alive is in motion…”

When painting works, it brings life to an image. When painting fails, it pins an image like a specimen to the canvas.

This is one of the ways I can evaluate my own work: when I sense a presence there… when I see someone looking back at me, when some world begins to breathe…

I love accuracy and precision and care, but without this sense of vital energy a painting fails its most basic assignment.

about me

My Photo
New Mexico
These studio notes are scraps of poetry and ideas that feed my work as a painter. I hope they establish a bit of context for the paintings and my intention in making them. Whatever I paint, I’m trying to create some space for us to sit with the questions that are not meant to be answered. These paintings are available for sale. Please email me [horst.mark@gmail.com] for a price list and shipping options.