Mark Alsweiler is a Sydney-based artist whose wooden sculptures and paintings have truly stolen our hearts. He’s originally from the south island of New Zealand, and studied graphic design at Otago University in Dunedin with the idea of becoming a graphic designer. Art made him make the jump over to Australia around 10 years ago, and since then he has been showing his work from Oz to San Francisco, solo and as part of the RVCA art collective.
Mark’s practice is centred around paintings and sculptures, with the two disciplines working like a mirror to each other. He was first a painter, constructing worlds on wooden panels in acrylic paint, and creating small worlds full of landscapes, cities, buildings and people going about their daily business in a natural, subdued colour palette. With an affinity for folk art and skate culture, he’s also inspired by other cultures around the world, both ancient and new, and fuses these influences together to create his work.
A few years ago he decided to shake things up, and started to play with wood. He fell in love with the process of picking the wood, which is mostly salvaged or reclaimed, and carving each piece meticulously by hand. Using tradition tools — a saw, hammer and chisel — Mark chips away at the wood in an intuitive way. He’ll start with a vague idea of what the piece will look like, but lets the process guide him. After the basic form is made, it’s time for sanding and a lick of paint in a combination of bright and subdued primaries.
The sculptures are essentially a three dimensional representation of the characters which exist in his painted worlds, building on the narrative that he creates within. People of the land, wearing dungarees and broad-rimmed hats, balancing pots and shapes on their heads, young and old and expressing a range of emotions. They’re eccentric and full of character, and match perfectly with his paintings.
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