@Black Art Projects collingwood, victoria (Australia)
1 – 21 april 2011
Yeah, the show is over, but wowzas, the work is awesome. Check out a studio visit we did with him a couple years back.
In recent years, Mark Whalen has used an axonometric grid as a foundation on which to engineer paintings that are, at once, psychedelic visions of our past lives and a revelatory demonstration of what is yet to come.
This grid is central to his practice as it removes any familiar context from which we find our bearings. His works often appear bigger than us in spirit, yet through their diminutive scale and fine detail, we peer into them as miniature dioramas.
Whalen’s characters are confined within micro worlds laden with sex, religion, race, and violence. They play out scenes that titillate and torture with reckless abandon. At times there is no distinction between floor, ceiling and wall – each being congruent with activity and without gravitational pull. These worlds are, quite literally, on the brink of being turned upside down.
That is not to say Whalen doesn’t impart his distinctive humour throughout his artworks. It is not all doom and gloom, fantasy and fanfare. Whalen revels in the absurd and his paintings and sculptures are as much whimsical as they are worldly, and often tongue in cheek. His palette alone delivers a wry comment on the very nature of society’s willingness to categorise each other; the great divide of girl and boy, pink and blue.
Now living and working in Los Angeles, Whalen’s practice is a far cry from his early years in Sydney where he was recognised for his large-scale graffiti works. Yet his indomitable spirit of creativity and resistance fractures and realigns old divides between street and gallery, and reinterprets the universal human struggle for freedom and control in a world that he sees as being bent on self-destruction. Since 2006, Whalen’s work has been shown in a constant stream of exhibitions in Los Angeles, London, Berlin, and Australia. He was included in 2009’s
Apocalypse Wow! Exhibition at MACRO Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome and more recently SPACE INVADERS at the National Gallery of Australia. He has appeared in numerous publications such as Juxtapoz, Modart Europe, Arkitip, Nylon, Artist Profile, Australian Art Collector and Monster Children.
In 2008, Mark Whalen was awarded the Sydney Music, Arts & Culture Award for best visual artist and, in 2009, he was named in the top 100 Creative Catalysts by the Creative Sydney Festival. His work is held in the National Gallery of Australia and Artbank.
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