Mark Soltero

Visual Artist
My work is situated in reference to my personal history and the cultural and political landscape of the Postmodernist period.

The late 70’s was a formative period for me, in particular there was a revolution taking place in the film industry that would make a significant impact on the wider visual culture. The etymology of cinéma translates literally as the drawing of movement. Theatres are containers of images and collective memory. The Silver screen is like a mirror, reflecting traces of visual culture back to the consumers of that culture. 

My practice is built around an intense drawing process. Working with hand-drawn and found images, processed in the computer and scaled, transferred and intricately traced or stencilled before painting. Paint is often applied with squeegees. While individual marks may be visible when viewed closely, the image is read as a single mark.

Larger works on wool and hessian, some over five meters, are suspended out from the wall in such a way as to emphasise the base materiality of the fabric, the paint, the monochrome palette. It’s important for me that the process and the labour involved in making are part of the experience in viewing the work.

In essence my paintings are history paintings that examine relationships between image, memory and materiality. Many of the images border on dissolution, fragmenting or breaking down in contrast to the seemingly smooth images that saturate our lived experience. Rather than making works in which the image might be shocking, I make works that draw audiences in, yet are challenging to look at. To a certain extent, the work explores our experience of différance, in time.

Having said that, my images are based on relatively simple visual elements; a monochrome palette, camouflage patterns, architectural spaces, numbers, letters, news references. These objects come from my personal history, but, I hope are not without significance and relevance to art audiences in general.

Recently I’ve been using a combination of reflective metallic paints and dense light-absorbing black. The shapes are the result of mining the interiors of particular cinéma spaces, slicing through the layers of the light and shadow in the image like an onion, revealing fragmentary patterns. The patterns are abstract but they were absolutely real at a particular point in time. I believe images are objects and I’m interested ideas related to mirrors – the refraction of light firstly in the photograph, then echoed through its projection over the internet and again when processed in a computer, the reflective paint, the doubling of the image to create the Rorschach effect and finally the fact that when we view abstract images we project our own thoughts onto them, and interpret what we’re seeing. Objects exist both in and across space.

The work presents a pictorial space that provides a stimulus for audiences to imagine and make associations with visual memories and experiences. Jacques Derrida’s concept of différance, where meaning is differed/deferred, can be considered in terms of the act of thinking which necessarily involves association, memory, prediction, assumption, anticipation…we literally move between associations. It’s that space of our interior world I’m exploring.

Artist CV