Roads that make us

Mark Powell

Loo & Lou Gallery - Haut Marais
12.01 - 02.03.24

On old papers with an outdated appearance – stamped envelopes, road maps, playing cards – Mark Powell (1980, England) draws a whole gallery of portraits using a ballpoint pen whose expressive power captivates the eye with force and authority. Here, the artist takes care to depict the entirety of the epidermal contours of his subjects - unknown faces most often encountered in the street - seemingly emphasizing their truly parchment-like bodily texture: wrinkles dig furrows right into the skin, imprinting the body with the traces of memory and the marks of time, the very same ones that shape landscapes and geological soils. Geographical inscriptions become embodied and lodged in anatomical details: faded with the background and then no longer distinct from it, the human face becomes a palimpsest, Mark Powell then generating a new way of viewing in his works. The skin becomes a surface on its own: leveraged only to convey interiority, the artist strives to reveal its enigmatic part, its whole density. This one seems to be driven by past wanderings – personal trajectories, cultural journeys – where intimacy and history blend without ever disturbing each other. Far from the images of perfection, the face then appears like an open book where the gradual curve of the dermis and skin tones inform about the depths of memory, as well as its sedimentation.

  • Maud de la Forterie, Historian and art critic