Curated by Nicole Eisenman
October 18 – December 1, 2007
Mark Turgeon, who holds a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design from 1987, has spent most of the past twenty years as an artist, rooted in New York City. He has had solo exhibitions at the Knitting Factory, New York, NY, 1988; The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York, NY, 1997 and the Dillon Gallery, New York, NY, 1999. Other group exhibitions include the M.S. Gallery, Hartford, CT; Paul Mellon Arts Center at Choate School, Wallingford, CT; Bucheon Gallery, San Francisco, CA; and Allan Stone Gallery, Grand Salon, Jack Tilton Gallery, Postmasters, and Esso Gallery in New York, NY. He has organized and been part of a number of spoken word/performance evenings in places such as CB's 313 Gallery; Fallen Angels Erotic Cabaret; Bell Café and McGovern's Bar. In collaboration with Edisa Weeks/Delirious Dance Co. they created two window box performances for Chashama Theatre. He has created sets and props and posters and significant graphics for many of his friends' theatre companies, and film projects, balancing the solitary time of study and creating art. He would like to thank everybody, especially his family and friends for their love and encouragement, and everyone at the CUE Art Foundation. Thank You.
Nicole Eisenman has been living and working in New York for the last 20 years. She began in New York as a commercial mural painter and had her first show in 1992 at Nicola Tyson's now infamous project space, Trial Balloon, New York, NY. She showed her work at Tilton Gallery, New York, NY for 10 years doing mixed media installations, sculpture, video, drawing and painting. In 1993 she left the Tilton Gallery and began to focus solely on painting. She is represented by Leo Koenig Gallery in New York City, Susan Vielmetter Gallery in Culver City, CA and Galerie Barbara Weiss in Berlin. Eisenman's work is represented in museums including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, The Modern Museum of Art, New York, NY; the Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; The Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA. She is also represented in many major collections.
The pictures are in the tradition of still life painting. According to some, still life painting stems from the private work done by the scenic painters of the ancient Greek theatre. Still life painting was used as an ornament in homes, a descriptive image displaying what you could find within the home, "what we have" and "what there is."
In my pictures I take a similar point of view but I exchange the word "world" for "home." Most of the images begin with the simplicity of flowers in a vase, but often lead into another story concerning the time we live in, a certain country, a certain people, their joys, their struggles and their obstacles.
I use historical references of words and places, objects and images. The flowers and vases often come from life in the present, yet sometimes they come from history, as in the roses from a mosaic in Ravenna or a beautiful Minoan vase. A way to make use of history in the present, make it tangible.
The paintings are in the ancient technique of fresco painting. Over the years I have experimented and have tried to learn this technique. Beginning with a canvas, I use plaster and wall-compound as a ground. When this is dry I add pure dust pigment with water, saturating the color into the ground. It is a very slow process to build up a color; maybe they should be called "fresco lungo" or "festina lente" - "hurry slowlies". The final picture is very durable, delicate and portable, with an ability to take in and give as much light as possible. Luminous color. I love color and I love to see.
These pictures are the results of my long road of portrait painting, still life painting and storytelling. They are Love, Love and Protest paintings, based on emotions, observations and research. More simply, they are an artist's points of view, visual poems, reflections and concerns for the world we live in, "what we have."
by Nicole Eisenman
I met Mark 25 years ago and knew right away he was an extraordinary painter. Mark has a kinship to Giotto, and Matisse, in the strong graphics and color -which has the kind of depth you only experience with fresco- the painting's surfaces are just so unbelievably beautiful, flat, raw and seductive. But it is Mark's deep political, spiritual and moral feelings that determine the content of his paintings, everything symbolizes something else, you enter into a maze of meaning which is at times mystical, unsettled and often starkly political.
I have a lovely still life of Mark's. A bleached out coral vase, representing the oceans, bears a loose and unruly spray of Asclepius, a flower named after the Greek god of healing and which has been used medicinally for thousands of years. The painting is a prayer and also a remarkably simple plea: heal our oceans.
Many of the paintings function like this, elegant and sophisticated pictograms. I am a devoted follower of Mark's work, and the optimism it possesses.
YOUNG ART CRITIC ESSAY: Carolyn Funk on Mark Turgeon