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Los Angeles
Dutcher_hat_portal Dutcher_hold_the_lighter_up Dutcher_light_pours Dutcher_snow_hourglass Dutcher_picnic_at_truckstop Dutcher_worlds_apart Goforbroken Dutcherstudio2 Dutcherstudio6
'rak'rüm (noun);
the back room of an art gallery
where artists and art lovers hang
The Hat Portal, Mark DutcherMark Dutcher, The Hat Portal,
2007, mixed media on canvas, 59 x 59 in
© Courtesy the Artist & SolwayJones Gallery
Holder the Lighter Up, Mark DutcherMark Dutcher, Holder the Lighter Up,
2007, mixed media on canvas, 75 x 108 in
© Courtesy the Artist & SolwayJones Gallery
The Light Pours Out of Me, Mark DutcherMark Dutcher, The Light Pours Out of Me,
2006, mixed media on canvas, 75 x 75 in
© Courtesy the Artist & SolwayJones Gallery
The Snow Inside the Hourglass, Mark DutcherMark Dutcher, The Snow Inside the Hourglass,
2006, mixed media on canvas, 82 x 105 in
© Courtesy the Artist & SolwayJones Gallery
Picnic at a Truckstop, Mark DutcherMark Dutcher, Picnic at a Truckstop,
2007, oil, acrylic on canvas, 74 x 106 in
© Courtesy the Artist & SolwayJones Gallery
Worlds Apart, Mark DutcherMark Dutcher, Worlds Apart,
2007, mixed media on canvas, 80 x 92 in
© Courtesy the Artist & SolwayJones Gallery
(studio shot), Mark DutcherMark Dutcher, (studio shot), 2008
© Courtesy the Artist
(studio shot), Mark DutcherMark Dutcher, (studio shot), 2008
© Courtesy the Artist
(studio shot), Mark DutcherMark Dutcher, (studio shot), 2008
© Courtesy the Artist
(studio shot), Mark DutcherMark Dutcher, (studio shot), 2008
© Courtesy the Artist
A Monument to Prevent Further Destruction, Mark DutcherMark Dutcher,
A Monument to Prevent Further Destruction,
2008, Oil & acrylic on wood, 47 x 47 x 8 inches
© The artist and Steve Turner Contemporary
Root Out, Mark DutcherMark Dutcher, Root Out,
2008, Oil, acrylic, paintstick, on canvas with wood artist-made frame, 15" x 15" x 3"
Sylvester (Do You Wanna Funk?), Mark DutcherMark Dutcher, Sylvester (Do You Wanna Funk?),
2008, Oil, acrylic, paintstick, feathers and canvas on wood, 92 x 72 x 4 inches
© The Artist and Steve Turner Contemporary
, Mark DutcherMark Dutcher
© Latned Atsär
, Mark DutcherMark Dutcher
© Latned Atsär
, Mark DutcherMark Dutcher
© Latned Atsär
Sunnylands.Ex.Art.End., Mark DutcherMark Dutcher, Sunnylands.Ex.Art.End.,
2012, Oil, charcoal, pencil, and tinted gesso on canvas, 41 x 52 in.
Transfer, Mark DutcherMark Dutcher, Transfer, 2013, Mixed Media
© Mark Dutcher
, Mark DutcherMark Dutcher, 2014
, Mark DutcherMark Dutcher
© (Left) Mark Dutcher, Time Machine (New Dawn Fades), 2013-15. Oil, pencil on canvas with artist made frame, 891/2 × 54 1⁄4 in. (right) Mark Dutcher, Time Machine (Noah), 2015 Oil, pencil on canvas with artist made frame, 891/2 × 541/4 in.
Mark Dutcher is a painter and sculptor living and working in Los Angeles. He has exhibited extensively in solo and group shows in Southern California and the West Coast. His work deals with loss, memory and transformation. Using highly symbolic and iconic signs and imagery, Dutcher's work transcends linear narrative and takes the viewer into the realm of the intuitive and an almost dream-like poetry....[more]

Interview with Mark Dutcher

Los Angeles:  Articulate, emotional and committed, Mark Dutcher is a painter's painter.  Dutcher is deeply immersed in the process and act of painting.  He is one of those artists whose drive to create is demanding and relentless.  Over time, his work has grown and matured, and he easily walks that line between abstraction, expressionism, surrealism and pop. 

We spent a couple of hours in his studio talking about his working methods, influences and challenges.  As I sat there, thoroughly engrossed in our conversation, my eyes roamed through the dense and beautiful surfaces of his paintings and the Dutcher spell slowly took hold.  

Georgia Fee:  You mentioned your father a number of times, as well as Philip Guston. How have these two men affected your work? Do you see any connection between them, or in the ways they impacted your development as an artist?

Mark Dutcher:  My father is a painter and a hermit. I have only met him a handful of times. He lives in a house that he painted "camouflage style" near Bishop, CA. His absence has been a presence, if that makes any sense. Philip Guston has been a father figure. He taught me how to paint. Recently I have been interested in his late abstractions , the ones that are aching to become narrative. I have also been looking at Joan Mitchell paintings from the 60's. She is my painting mother.

GF:  In describing your work you referred to yourself as a symbolic painter, and we talked at length about the symbols in your work: the hourglass, the heads, the pipes, hats and boots (to name a few). Now you have a large "X" beginning to take hold. Are these talismanic? Acts of private importance or protection? Why do you keep returning to the same symbols?

MD:  Some of my first paintings were of cups, vases, bottles, urns; symbols that I painted over and over. The paintings were about emptiness and isolation and about things needing to be filled. I was influenced at the time by Susan Rothenberg - the idea of reducing the painting to one symbol and then breaking that symbol apart. I was also looking at Guston's late paintings and the idea of non-linear narrative surrounding symbols and accumulating over a series of paintings. Now all my symbols are colliding together. A mass of symbols whirling about the canvas and the universe. Maybe the "X" is to prevent them from spilling into the room, or an x to prevent further destruction or possibly an x to mark the spot.

GF:  In addition to your use of symbols, you employ a lot of techniques that blur or cover-over or disguise. How does "mystery" play into your work? Are you hiding or revealing? What about your viewer - are you engaging in some sort of dialogue with them?

MD:  I am opposed to the idea of preciousness in painting. I am all for decay and disintegration. I want the painting to be weathered and layered. I usually go into my studio and destroy or paint out what I had painted the day before. I have an urge toward self-destruction. Most days I act that out in the studio. I am very interested in the melancholic idea of beauty - that nothing lasts. I want the viewer to be a part of the painting rather than reading it as a novel or story. I think that is why I paint so large, so people can enter the work.

GF:  People have written about loss and death in relationship to your work. And yet, there seems to be an outpouring of almost chaotic energy in the new paintings. Is the poetry of Mark Dutcher changing?

MD:  The new paintings are about the myth of the West and western expansion. The emptiness has been filled. There is no room to expand. The paintings are bursting . They are filled with debris-boots, cowboy hats, wagon wheels, paint: a carnivalesque explosion of junk.

GF:  Many people have said that self-doubt is one of the most difficult things to deal with as an artist. Do you experience this? What are your solutions?

MD:  Most days I am in the studio. I paint all the time. The self doubt just becomes part of the painting. I think it helps that my paintings are not planned out. I usually have a starting point, an idea that I don't hold myself to.

GF:  What 5 words would best describe your work?

MD:  Today. I. Want. To. Live.

(how about a little personal stuff...)

GF:  Heart throbs? Heroes?

MD:  Philip Guston, Georg Baselitz, Susan Rothenberg. Manuel Ocampo. Anselm Kiefer, Sherie Franssen, Chris Martin. Amy Silman. Lucio Fontana. Schnabel. Basquiet. De Chirico. Joan Mitchell.

GF:  What's your music - bedside reads?

MD:  Sigur Ros. Joy Division. Explosions in the sky. Radio Head. Sylvester. Patty Smith. Judy Garland.  And the poetry of Paul Celan and Maw Shein Win.

GF:  The perfect moment, the one you could do over and over?

MD:  Paint.

ArtSlant would like to thank Mark Dutcher for his assistance in making this interview possible.

--Georgia Fee

(All Images: Mark Dutcher studio shots, Feb. 2008; Courtesy of the Artist and



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