If only I could sing - Press Release

Hajo Duechting: Kandinsky developed his idea of the correspondence between a work of art and the viewer, and called it "Klang" (sound or resonance). He wrote: "Colour is the power which directly influences the soul. Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with the strings. The artist is the hand which plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul."

If music could be frozen would it look like architecture? Lofty, intimate or ugly; there’s structure, repetition, patterns, recurring motifs, layers, and maybe they don’t call it a bridge for nuthin’... Can you paint a sound? Mark figured he’d give it a shot, music, after all, his great passion, and his confessed hack multi-instrumentalism, (reserving a special fondness for the fat tones, long low reaches and bone-buzzing physicality of the bass) leaving his only option to render the songs that mattered to him, the sounds, the things that music does, in paint and colour. The muted tones of a sad quiet song, virulent red bursts of noise, clashing discordant colours, the thick recurring punctuations of the kick drum, laid out before you, seismographically, like a map…Mark presents here some manifestations of sound on canvas; cut-ups, remixes, the arrangements, occurrences and recombinations of sounds plotted flat.

From his musical household, there’s been late night conversations about silences and the spaces between notes, or the textures you can build up in layers, and the things that thread these ideas together. Though the original seed was planted ten years ago, sitting on swings in a pre-dawn Palace park in London, Music versus Painting, was the contest, who will be the champion? Who cares? They got plenty to teach each other in any case and plenty in common too (timbre and tone, hue and pitch, saturation and volume, just for starters), and that stretched out the argument on the swings into a grey London dawn and a decade beyond. But that was the middle point to this obsession with synthesis, this Mobius strip route of artforms chasing each other through conceptual space. The beginning point marked by Mark’s first Walkman epiphany as a kid, lying in bed with earphones, mentally splitting the music into its component parts, its separate tracks, and this trinity of turning points completed by his first glimpse of music made on a computer monitor, those thick fuzzy-edged strips and bursts of pixelated green meaning music, mapped out, laid across an x-axis for time and a y-axis for amplitude, and it made perfect intuitive sense. But here the visual analogues go beyond strict representation or point-for-point mapping; to take in the mood, feeling, the abstract emotions that a song or a painting will offer you beyond its simple physical fact.

Like Vasilly Kandinsky, that multi-tasking dead Russian painter, stage-designer, musician and theorist, Mark doesn’t like to limit himself. He trained as an architect (first class honours, no less), worked as a graphic designer, travelled extensively, makes short films and video art, still works as an illustrator for magazines and knocks together songs at times, all pursuits in all artforms informing each other continually, like feedback squealing round the stage, only multi-dimensional. So Mark, Sydney son of Maltese immigrants, retreating from defiant and exhausting political explorations in aesthetics (just for now) to the solace of good sounds, reckons he can’t sing. Lucky he can paint.

Kelsey Munro