Mark Powell

Loo & Lou Gallery - Haut Marais
28.04 - 10.06.23

Mark Powell was born in 1980 in Leeds, Great Britain, and attended the University of Huddersfield, where he enrolled one day by chance when he met the head of the fine arts department to whom he showed some drawings. The meeting facilitated his enrolment, and Mark Powell began to study drawing and painting.

For this first collaboration with the Loo & Lou, the Atelier hosts a gallery of faces superimposed on fragments of maps and plans. Foreground and background merge their reliefs, wrinkles become roads, geological lines become wrinkles at the corner of the eyes. The artist draws his own topography, he whose eventful life and numerous peregrinations have led him from city to city, undoubtedly leafing through the maps and plans that he now covers with a refined line. His drawings are rooted in his own uprooting, in these paths taken or imagined whose sometimes evocative titles lead us to the crossroads. The terrestrial data become supports of their transformation into anatomical data, and conversely. The journey takes place in these comings and goings that inspire us with faces and landscapes.

The perseverance of the artist and the meticulousness of the line explode in the immediacy of the figuration which faces us with force, rendered simply by his instrument of preference, the ballpoint pen. It is a conscientious work that allows few failures but that requires clarity and delicacy. If Mark Powell feels close to Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Hockney or Samuel Basset, the finesse of his line reminds us of the careful and learned gesture of engraving. Claude Mellan in the 17th century detached the face of Christ, floating on the sheet of paper, representing it with a single stroke like a long path that takes up the woven thread of the shroud of Saint Veronica. Powell has fun with the same feat, drawing the weaving of the face.

If the first function of a map is to find one’s way, it is also the flattened face of a city, of a place: it is the schematic, essential and conventional representation behind which one can guess, if one wishes, the bubbling of life and the city agitation. It is no coincidence that Mark Powell also chooses old postcards as background archives that capture personal experiences, fragments of stories. We imagine the lives of these faces, all their possible directions; it is an invitation to travel, a work of an aesthetic as well as narrative quality.

- Nina Lashermes