We caught up with Mark McClure about Abstraction, historical influences, and dream collaborations. Building up dynamic layers is something the original Abstract artists excelled at, and it’s something that artist Mark McClure knows something about too.
Artrepublic (AR):Abstraction, by definition is dealing with ideas rather than events. What kind of ideas do you find yourself dealing with in your work?
Mark McClure (MM): My early painted pieces originally developed from landscapes – the structural and architectural shapes around me in London. I took this further when I started using bits of wood and paper on canvas, taking the landscape to a more directly connected work that used materials found in the scenes that they represented. These ideas of abstract landscape and representing structural forms, patterns and everyday motifs – combined with using materials and textures from my daily surroundings – are the basis for all the work I do today, albeit using a more pared-down, condensed visual language.
AR: Abstraction is also a state of preoccupation. In general, what do you find preoccupies you and why?
MM: Challenging my own perceptions of what I like about a piece and what I don’t. It’s not always constructive to consciously think about this for too long, but I find it fascinating. If I like something immediately I often find that I don’t so much a few days later… It’s usually the works that are a struggle that become the long-term loves. It’s a hard-earned thing. There’s probably a profound life lesson in there somewhere.
AR: Historically, abstract art was as much about process and materials as it was the outcome. Can you talk us through your usual making process, and the materials you feel an affinity with?
MM: It varies a lot. The trigger can be one of many things; sometimes a certain piece of wood or metal will catch my eye and become the starting point of a piece, especially for the sculptural works. These then slowly develop – as a pile of changing shapes and objects on the worktop, which are added to or taken from – before they slowly settle into place and are fixed. For the mosaics I tend to sketch in a sketchbook or on the computer and take a piece to an almost finished state before cutting wood or having it cut, and then painting and assembling the work. There’s always an element of chance and the happy accidents often make a piece – either with loosely painted additions or through the way cut shapes interact with each other
AR: If you could collaborate on a project with anyone – artist/ non-artist, dead or alive – who would it be and why?
MM: I think it’d be someone like Joshua Davis, a creative coder and artist who has been doing amazing work for decades on Praystation. My background is in digital interactive design, and I’m slowly introducing elements of that journey back into my current work. So to do a project with someone with that knowledge and creativity could only end in kick-ass awesomeness.
AR: Consider the Cubists as an early-20th century art collective, pushing each other’s work forward. Who’s in your art gang?
MM: Good question. I don’t really have a core group who are connected through similar work. It largely depends where I am. I’m lucky enough to live near the good folk at LookUp Editions, who live and breathe abstraction and do a very good pint-based critique. After that it’s all about long boozy chats in the pub, which normally go off topic after 20 minutes and onto something entirely different. The usual suspects include the likes of Ben Slow, Dan Cimmermann, Nadeem Chughtai and the Static boys. My studio neighbours Richard Stone and Hannah Ludnow are my daily sounding boards – even though our work is hugely different to each other’s, it helps to have a completely fresh take on things.