Mark Masters is not merely an artist. His work, comparable to fervent visual poetry, transcends traditional interpretations of society to truly establish Masters as a unique visionary capable of challenging a monotonous world. Upon primary glance, Masters’ work inspires a gripping sense of fragmentation between what the unaided eye is capable of perceiving and how it carries the potential to contradict what is then transcribed as truth deep within the hollows of the mind.
The expertly curated fictional land Masters transports viewers to through his artwork is reminiscent of works by Romanticist artist, Samuel Palmer, who was known for his dark, pastoral depictions of British landscapes which he coined as ‘demi-paradises’. Much like Palmer, Masters’ work offsets bygone and forgotten lands with dreamlike, fantastical figures thereby revealing his effervescent whimsicality and versatility as an artist. Palmer and his contemporaries, such as famous Royal Academy graduates, George Richmond and Edward Calvert, collaborated to form the notable English artist group, ‘The Ancients’, which heavily drew inspiration from the wondrous works of William Blake. Mark Masters acts as an avant garde revival of this fantastical art group, embodying the life, soul and talent of ‘The Ancients’ while providing, and maintaining, his own unique spin on this 19th century movement. For example, we see Masters’ imaginative, Cubist take on a classic landscape in ‘Growing A Single, Perfect, Timeless Blade’, where he explores the power of nature through a meticulous study of the form and function of the natural world.
When elaborating on his form, it is impossible not to mention the expertly crafted, organic figures Masters’ normally depicts while his frequent use of naturalistic imagery strips society to its most fundamental and instinctive origins, captivating his audience and urging viewers to ponder the human condition. Masters sits among the greats in his symbolic use of animal forms to execute a powerful composition, much like Picasso’s iconic use of the bull and Chagall’s farm animals.
In order to truly grasp the intricacies and emotional intellect underpinning the work of Mark Masters one must firstly consider the artists he draws inspiration from, namely Italian Neoclassicist, Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Both Piranesi and Masters share a similar objective and style: to fabricate an entirely new universe through their chosen medium using vibrant contrast, Piranesi principally through etching and Masters through a diverse range of techniques, including mixed media and collage. In fact, Masters’ expertise, ability and confidence in various fields reveal his strong, professional command over all facets of the Arts, a remarkably rare achievement incapable of being claimed by many.
One exquisite feature highlighted in Mark Masters’ paintings, in particular, is his highly emotive brushwork which evokes a powerful sense of movement flowing outward from the deepest facets of the subconscious onto the canvas. Additionally, the dark, disintegrated figures and shapes featured reduce his subject matter and, in a way, life itself to its most fundamental and naturalistic roots. Furthermore, his use of soft, cascading brushstrokes instill a sense of ethereal ascension and spirituality. This is demonstrated in his passionate piece entitled ‘Nothing I Can Say Will Bring You Back to Me’ where viewers experience a sense of spiritual revival in the face of inevitable, and mournful, loss, as if an awakening has occurred. Much like the work of Leucien Freud, Masters’ breathtaking technical skill and emotional sensitivity, which can be seen from his analysis and confidence in exploring the more harrowing aspects of what it means to be human, combine to create irresistible works of art thereby solidifying Mark Masters’ status as an innovative and notable figure in the contemporary art world.