Neuschnee - Kreiszeitung No. 110

‘Winter Scenes Invite You to Remember’

Although the scenes are anything but inviting, the paintings have a very unique ability to draw you in. Do I know this place? Have I already been there? Mark Thompson, whose work can currently be seen at Galerie Contact, manages to create out of memory whilst at the same time playing with the viewer.

The English painter depicts snowy landscapes that suck in the viewer through their perspectival dynamics. The edge of a lake stretching towards the horizon, the lonely mountain road that ends in no mans land, the disused train tracks disappearing into forest – each generates a strong structure within the paintings. The first impression might suggest that the artist wishes to depict the architecture of landscape in a very particular way, but for Mark Thompson there is something much more important.

The painter avoids strong colours as the devil avoids holy water, he almost only uses tones of back and white with touches of blue which appears to give his paintings the charm of historic photographs. Besides that, the Englishman likes to make the distant more clear than the near. The skies are hard to pin down, and often flow into the horizon – all in all, the impression of a place detached from reality is created. The viewer is thus shown a world devoid of man; the world through a veil. The clear perspective meets something swimming, illusory and flowing in black and white.

“I see the world more in tones than in colours”, says Thompson in English. His preference for ‘winter scenes’ thus reveals an essential reduction. The works are less concerned with the architecture of landscape, explains Thompson, but more about the architecture of memory. “It isn’t my intention to depict the world – my work is not really concerned with photographic illustration” says the 38 year old. He therefore depicts in an expressively figurative manner what he has experienced – his memory of place. Ultimately everything perceived is thus shaped by memories, “Everything we see is filtered by experience and memory” clarifies Thompson. That naturally also holds true for the viewer of his oil paintings. ”A viewer maybe remembers places they have themselves seen” explains the painter, “And thereby hopefully gains a closer relationship with my work”.

After his degree at The Slade School of Fine Arts, London, in 1997, Mark Thompson began to travel. His extensive journeys took him to Iceland, Scandinavia and Alaska. From there he brought back internal pictures that formed the basis for his subsequent work. This is clearly illustrated by the painting ‘The heart perfected’ which a viewer that knows the region can recognize as the Oberer See in Böblingen. “It is that lake, but indirectly” explains Thompson, “Whilst in Lapland I witnessed a similar place and that has also become part of the painting”.

Since the last year, Mark Thompson has lived in Böblingen. “We met in England in 2008”, explains his partner Silke Binder, “and in 2009 he came to live with me in Böblingen”. In England the 38 year old has made a name for himself as a painter, and has also been exhibited in Norway and America. In Germany he starts again somewhere near zero, therefore Thompson is happy about the possibilities of the exhibition at Galerie Contact. “I was lucky that such an exhibition was possible so quickly” says the Englishman, “This is a first step towards getting my foot into the German art world”.

Robert Krülle  
Saturday, 15 May 2010