Mark Andres is a painter, filmmaker and educator. All of these things are important when considering his work, whose influences span both art history and film genres. Son of Illustrator Charles J. Andres, he is comfortable in pulling threads from across the full spectrum of pictorial references, including illustration and comic book art, as well as Fauvism, German Expressionism and cinema. He draws subjects from classical and allegory paintings in reimaginings that are uniquely his own. His exhibition “Indoors”, showing through April 3, showcases a body of work created over the past two years in which many of us were cossetted in our homes. During quarantine, he moved his studio to his home and developed remote teaching skills over Zoom. This isolation has resulted is a series of intimate portraits of people in interior spaces. There is particular attention to light in these paintings, as it beams from a lamp or streams through windows in carefully designed compositions as if each painting were an image from a film. The artist has said he wants his paintings to be like silent films.
Artist’s statement The images of people gathered in rooms, talking, dancing, playing cards, or alone with their thoughts are all subjects that have been part of the history of painting— they are genre paintings-- scenes from everyday life. My paintings fit that description, but these paintings of people gathered together indoors in 2020 or 2021 have a different subtext: these people are inside because they are shutting out the world. They are afraid. My paintings are a quarantine diary about living in fear, in boredom, and occasionally finding grace in companionship.
These images are of people gathered together to pass the time could be from the old days, except my gamblers are passing the time to distract themselves from the fact they are also gambling with their lives; another painting of gamblers shows them playing under an expulsion scene which suggests that after some knowledge there can be no return. To paint a séance now may suggest not just a summoning the dead, but more particularly the 800,000 dead in this country from COVID. Reading helps. My painting of a woman reading may suggest she is reading slave narratives, and learns that the quilt she lies on everyday was based on designs made by slaves; from now on that room will never feel the same, but she will be richer for this awareness.
Don’t be sad. We can still dance, though if you look carefully at my dance party, the woman at left pretends to dance with herself, and the other women in long dresses have danced their way right out of a painting by Winslow Homer to keep her company. Speaking of art history, the quarantine lead many to pass the time by reenacting famous paintings, so why not pretend to be Judith, who snuck with her handmaiden into the camp of her enemy to behead their general, Holoferenes? To reenact this work of Artemesia Gentileschi is to quaff a good dose of righteous anger.
If you are to be in quarantine, may it be with those you love. And in the night when you are exhausted and alone and unable to sleep, when rest seems far away, a painting can provide a sort of consolation: for if your world has been truly seen you are never truly alone, and if you can find beauty in the world then all is not lost. The sun can still warm your body, and that moment can provide a haven in which you can rest. To celebrate such moments is one reason painting was invented.
Mark Andres studied at Williams College, The Art Institute of Boston, and The University of Massachusetts (Amherst) . His paintings are in numerous public and private collections including the Portland Art Museum, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Maryhill Museum, Oregon Health and Sciences University and University of Portland. He is a recipient of a Massachusetts Artists Foundation Fellowship and an Oregon Literary Arts Award Grant. His silent animated feature films have been have been official selections at numerous film festivals and been awarded Best Animated Film at the Independent Filmmakers Showcase in Los Angeles (three times), the California Film Awards, the Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival, Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards, the Mexico International Film Festival, as well as received awards from the International Independent Film Festival Awards, Back in the Box Screenplay Competition, and LA Underground Film Forum. For his work as an educator, Andres is the recipient of a Gordon Galbraith Award for teaching excellence, a U.S. Bankcorp Teaching Award, a NISOD Award for Teaching (University of Texas, Austin) and he was named Higher Education Art Educator of the Year by The Oregon Art Educators Association. He has been on the faculty of PCC Rock Creek since 1991.