Painter Mark Whalen’s Vibrant, Anguished Explorations

by Andy SmithPosted on

Australia-born, Los Angeles-based painter Mark Whalen is known for works that exhibit both a dark humor and vibrancy, mirroring the duality of Western living. His current show, “Around the Bend,” fills Australia’s Chalk Horse Gallery with examples of this charge, with disparate, vague figures rendered in struggle. He was last featured on here.

The gallery offers insight into the thinking behind these pieces: “The exhibition sums up a contemporary anxiety, that you see not only in art but also in fashionable dressing or other activities connected to our identities. How do we on one hand speak in a language that is largely acceptable and social but at the same time stand out?”

Generally, there’s an ambiguity to the movements, struggles, and motives of his subjects, and their bright hues feel lighthearted at first glance. Yet, in works like “Tied Up,” there exists both seductive and repelling qualities. Within “Trapezoid,” there are a handful of interactions to behold, their struggles moving between sexual, subservient, and anxious vibes. The geometric patterns adds to the tension. And the material on which Whalen paints can also reflect that tension, as the ceramic “Bending Dimensions” features a battle waged on what appears to be crumpled paper, as if even the struggle itself is wrought with exploration.

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