My original interest in painting was focused on the landscapes of the Hudson River School of painting in the 19th century. Admittedly, mine was a somewhat odd beginning; for a teenager in 1971 to be held sway by a 19th century school of painting, one must grant some credence to the mystery of the subconscious. I studied the movement passionately, and the beauty of the American landscapes held my interest for many years.
Living in the high desert of New Mexico has taught me about light and informed my paintings with a depth of solitude and tranquility. The unique cultures here, steeped in history, inspire and fascinate me. I enjoy painting to capture this essence with a beautiful, refined quality, selecting high quality pigments, canvas, linen, and frames as well as using a unique method to apply oil paint to surfaces.
Though I was attracted to the style of Hudson River School artists, I was unaware as a teenager of the underpinnings of Manifest Destiny that largely informed their work. From learning and studying this issue and frequently traveling to the coasts to paint and photograph inspiring locations, I have increasingly embedded meaning into my work, ranging from personal to societal American issues.
My later landscape work reflects ideas I harvested while in the American South within the plantations, bayous, swamps, dirt roads, dive bars, and dance halls. I love the immense beauty which always surrounds us and continue to be inspired by the everyday lives of working people. With my knowledge of art history and our world, my focus has shifted.
Developing from my urge to reconcile the lush, radiant images of Manifest Destiny to portraying more sober visions of current American culture, politics, and social issues, my subject matter has shifted. Though my artistic style is consistent, I am following my intuition to paint according to my newer creative interests.
“Allegory”, my newest body of work, reflects my desire to expose subtexts of America and discuss what our country is built upon.
Mark Beck 2019