Minnesota-born Mark Horst is one of those rare humans who is able to vividly see humanity in its full glory. Mark goes into the world with eyes and mind wide open and his art is a pure and selfless service to those who miss the very obvious beauty that exists all around us. Mark’s work is devoid of judgment and/or interpretation; his paintings simply make viewers aware of the fully accessible amazingness always unfolding in plain view. Mark’s paintings and words expose a humility and honesty that we all aspire to. Mark describes his process as “messy”, but the end results underscore the fact that the end truly does justify the means.
Get ready to be inspired by the illuminating interview below.
“For me, painting is a practice of seeing the world as it is—rather than how I’d like it to be or how I think …”
Please tell us a little about yourself – your childhood, siblings, where you grew up, what you liked as a child, strange thoughts as a child/now, unique attributes, where you live now, etc.?
Well I was a bit of a strange boy. I was preoccupied with dying and I spent a lot of time mourning for dead animals. I also worried a lot about the sun burning out. Now I find thoughts of death much less troublesome. Maybe it’s just that I seem on track to die before the sun runs out of gas.
What does your art mean to you?
For me, painting is a practice of seeing the world as it is—rather than how I’d like it to be or how I think it should be. Painting pushes me to pay attention to rhythms and patterns and shapes and colors and emotions and gestures—all these gifts surrounding me.
Neruda says he wants his poems to carry some of the ocean’s pulsing with them. I hope my painting holds some of the silence of the New Mexican desert.
How do you describe your form of art?
It’s paint. It’s messy. Usually oils. Usually layers of observation, construction and destruction. I want my painting to be wrecked enough to allow some other energies to come through.
Your art is very textural and has the feel of a somber but very realistic vintage movie – Is this done purposefully? What tools do you use for the creation of your work and how did you create your personal art style?
I love old, falling-apart paintings: crazed, cracked, stained, darkening linseed oil. And I love old photos for some of the same reasons and for what they leave out—their faded, blurred images.
I work from photos. I spend a lot of time trying to paint precisely; and then I spend as much time trying to destroy any sentimentality or superficiality in the image. You might say I developed this way of working out of frustration with what I was seeing. I found that the image almost always got more interesting after I attempted to destroy it.
What is the worst critique you have ever received about your work? What is the best compliment that you have received about your work?
So far no one has said anything as critical of my work as what I say about it every day—so I guess that’s good? Someone once said that looking at one of my portraits was like seeing something “holy” in an ordinary thing. I think that’s pretty damn good.
Your images have a spirit/sense of longing and loneliness – is this purposeful? And what are you usually trying to evoke with your work?
I don’t try to evoke anything in particular, but I would like my work to invite you to drop into a place beyond right and wrong and beyond answers.
If an image evokes a sense of longing for you, then I hope the art itself can help you stay with that experience. I find that when I embrace my own loneliness, and really go with it, that it almost always breaks through into an experience of deep connectedness.
Which artist/s do you look up to the most?
I have a painter friend I met in India who’s called Vishwanadan: one of the most gentle, fierce, productive, mystical painters I know. His art seems to rise up out of a deep, grounded sense of purpose. He says “first we mix the paint and then we play.” Every day I set out my paints and say to myself: now play.
Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think define a man?
I guess I’d have to say that the bicycle makes the man. My ride of choice is a grey Soma frame; a Brooks saddle and orange rims. For me: Redwing boots and canvas shorts.
What is your personal life philosophy?
Who dead or alive, celebrity or not, artist or not, would you like to go on a two week road trip with and why?
Right now I’m on a road trip with my partner Elisabeth who is a fabric artist. She’s the perfect companion on a road trip because she goes so much slower than I do. I cover less ground but I see way more when I’m with her.
How can people learn more about your current and upcoming works?
I try to keep my website up to date—though I often fail. Sometimes I post new work at www.saatchiart.com. I have work at a number of galleries that are listed on my website.
See similar Art Features here …