Asceticism and Beauty

By Petra Giloy-Hirtz (translated by Paula Domzalski)

In a time of obsession with the narrative and overflowing with images, favouring figurative painting, Mark Harrington sets himself apart with the language of the nonfigurative. As with certain of his contemporaries, he has picked up the threads of the Abstract in Modernism, refreshing and renewing with techniques, colours and materials. From the middle of the nineties a conceptual body of work has thus developed, unfolding within the framework of a distinct structure. Mark Harrington's paintings have two things in common: structural conformity and a repetition of form - horizontal lines and a diptych format. That is to say, each painting creates its own entity out of two parts, placed above or next to one another. Instead of a brush, tools are used to draw tracelines into the layers of paint, in a complex process.The paintings resemble objects with their massive wooden construction supporting the canvas which is fastened onto a panel of synthetic material.

In this manner, varying from small to monumental formats, pictorial plates emerge, bearing their own unmistakable handwriting. Alternating between the unyielding, hermetically-sealed and the light and sensual, between the strangely and the seductively-beautiful coloured, the paintings reveal their multiplicity in the logic of reduction. Sublime variety emerges from their structural repetition. In focussing upon the manupulation of surface, a more sophisticated form of "drawing" has emerged during the last years. The compositions allow space for association and memory in the mind of the observer. And so the correlation between abstraction and independence of spirit fulfills itself anew.