Interview & review - January 28, 2011
Gaubote, Germany. 

Blickwechsel, Schacher Raum fur Kunst, Stuttgart
Snow brings Light to the Paintings

Kuppingen: The Englishman Mark Thompson has an exhibition at the Galeriehaus Stuttgart.

There is a lot of darkness in Thompson’s paintings; snow enlightens the night, the high reaching facades of old buildings are lost to the gloom. The architectural content of Mark Thompson’s paintings became apparent when the Englishman moved to Germany. Now resident in Kuppingen, a new show of his work is opening in Stuttgart.  

Starting this weekend, Mark Thompson’s paintings are being shown ‘in conversation’ with those of the Stuttgart born Johanna Jakolew. “Two positions of landscape painting that can be situated somewhere between Caspar David Friedrich and ‘Resident Evil’,” the gallery owner Marko Schacher comments on the dialogue. Schacher first saw the paintings of the 38-year-old Englishman Thompson - who for personal reasons arrived first in Böblingen and then moved on to Kuppingen - in an exhibition at Galerie Contact, Böblingen, where Thompson’s works were presented for the first time in Germany. Schacher, the art historian who ran Sindelfingen’s town gallery in the Maichinger town hall and who then worked for Galerie Schlichtenmaier in Dätzingen, is currently fascinated by the dark power of Thompson’s monochromatic, mostly large scale paintings. The double exhibition Thompson/Jakolew, entitled “Blickwechsel” (change of perspective), is the first to be held at Schacher’s new gallery “Schacher – Raum für Kunst” and starts today, Friday, January 28th, at 7 pm.
Thompson was born in the East Anglian city of Peterborough, until 1997 studied in London and since then has lived as a professional artist. In Great Britain and the US, last of all in Seattle, his work has been seen in numerous exhibitions - in Germany he is a comparative newcomer to the art scene. During his time in college, the artist states, his work was primarily based in abstraction; in his last year of studies however, there was a decisive change of direction towards the landscape. Landscape painting in an unconventional way of course – Thompson’s paintings are monochromatic, the landscape lies within a leaden blackness, stretching itself into the depths, structured alone through the white of the snow that has fallen into all of the paintings, an unpopulated landscape in which colours, as the painter says, are ‘only incidentally’ there, a landscape that sucks in the viewer. Be Lost In Me, one of those landscapes, already shouts out in the title. It shows a road in deserted surroundings, a few dark houses, and above a heavy, oppressive sky, the landscape itself in a harsh black & white contrast out of which only a few poles stand out in a clear red. “I don’t see the world in terms of colour” he says. Instead he sees structures, hard staccato rhythms, contracts – the snow, explains Mark Thompson, brings light into the paintings in a way that allows the boundaries to dissolve into each other. He hears the silence, a factor that also plays an important role in music.
Painting as mirror

Thompson draws inspiration from the hypnotic intensity of Minimalist music, for example the endlessly silent soundscapes of Morton Feldman, but also from “Extreme Metal”, as he says. His paintings, he says, are a mirror for him. Mark Thompson has travelled extensively through Europe, the United States, and has a special love for Scandinavian countries and their painters. Perhaps, he says, you could call him a dark romantic – in the endless landscapes, like his predecessors, he was searching for timelessness. But now in Germany he seems to have finally arrived in the world of humans: this new development, that came about after his move, has brought the city into his work. Of course completely within the premise of Thompson’s former aesthetics: monochromatic darkness, snow and outside spaces. Now suddenly there appear buildings in his paintings, many of them he discovered during walks through Stuttgart: residential buildings – high towering mansions that can be found all over the city. They appear like foreign palaces, standing in snow covered, unpopulated streets. The artist, says Thompson, will always be an outsider, a foreigner in society, which he considers to be a positive thing: he doesn’t wish to call it alienation though, “I am not socially worried” he chuckles. He is fascinated by the architecture of Stuttgart’s Haus der Wirtschaft as well as the trees of the nearby Schwarzwald. From Friday on, his paintings can be seen at the Galerienhaus Stuttgart, Breitscheidstrasse 48.          

Friday, 28 January 2011