Creating her expressive, ethereal works from an industrial studio in Te Atatu Peninsula, Loren Marks builds strokes of oil paint atop a watery acrylic base, coaxing the emergence of figures, form, and texture.
Based in Auckland with one foot firmly in the realm of figurative abstraction, Marks credits the development of her practice to her travels through Italy and Greece after completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Whitecliffe, as well as her time spent as a print and textile designer in the fashion industry. With her art in the back of her mind throughout these formative years, Marks returned to painting during the first Covid-19 pandemic-related lockdown in 2020 and has never looked back.
Painting with oil and acrylic is a profoundly intuitive process for Marks. Since the age of eleven, she has “built a muscle memory” of how she feels about “surface, figures, form and colour”. Marks works across several paintings at once, explaining that the oil is “pushed and pulled across the surface”, each layer requiring a week or so to dry out. This drawn-out affair means that Marks can “feel a certain way about the painting one week, and it can be completely different and go in a new direction the next.” She adds that “the oil can be worked back into for days. I use solvents and mediums which either add by building up or subtract to reveal layers underneath”.
Each of Marks’ works creates new questions, the figures and narrative emerging as layers form. Pigments are selected with intention, and as Marks tells me, “colour is like a material that has its own weight”, creating light or shadow to illuminate the canvas.
Art historian and writer Maya Love describes Marks’ work as “paintings in continual flux, alive with the hum of her expressive application and electric colour, offering visions of form”. And these alchemic tenets are embodied in Marks’ debut exhibition ‘Here and There‘ at Sanderson Contemporary, her pieces a symphony of colours and textures that command the viewer’s eye at first glance.
While Marks can become lost in her studio for hours, she regularly practices yoga and meditation, attributing long-distance running to keeping her “centred amidst the chaos”.
An avid art enthusiast, Marks admires the works of George Rouy, Josh Hagler, Tahnee Lonsdale and Star Gossage. A stand-out piece from Marks’ personal collection is a pencil drawing by figurative painter Nour Hassan, housed in a gold frame and acquired at a silent auction for charity at a gallery on Karangahape Road. Marks recently received ‘Fausto and Felice Niccolini: The Houses and Monuments of Pompeii‘ by Roberto Cassanelli as a birthday gift, describing it as “the most monumental and beautiful book I have ever seen”.
I ask Marks if she has any advice for budding creatives. She believes that “emerging artist-led shows are really exciting and are an important part of the art world”, recommending to early career artists the book ‘Navigating the Art World: Professional Practice for the Early Career Artist‘ by Delphian.
Described by Love as a ‘modern-day oracle’, Marks’ impression on the contemporary art world is already indelible. It is a truly meditative experience to view her pieces in their full glory at Sanderson Contemporary in Newmarket, Auckland, with the exhibition running until 12 March 2023.
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