The following was written by Roberta Carasso for ArtScene Magazine.
By Roberta Carasso
The structural base of Mark Harrington’s exhibition begins with the visceral quality of Abstract Expressionism and the reductive simplicity of Minimalism. Into the mix, he adds depth of field photography. The rigor of working with three distinct visual disciplines yields a formidable body of work, a dynamic interplay of coalescence and contradictions that catch viewers off guard by having to negotiate territories that are both familiar and unfamiliar.
Rows of torn and ripped colored horizontal stripes rhythmically alternating against bare negative stripes have a deceptively “easy” appearance. Once the image is absorbed, what seems like simple flag-like striped canvas reveals complex thought processes. The overall horizontality, even in a vertical compositions, appears as if the image continues, going off somewhere to the left and to the right, to a place without end. The stripes also provide a ladder effect of going up and down. There is no sense of top and bottom, but a suggestion, rather than an actuality, of passage – a flow though time and space, a crossing of undefined fields, and an appearance of great volume. Harrington’s formal means emphasize varied depths of field. The image moves from apparently being close up to faraway, blurred yet clear, producing a quiet rocking back and forth motion. And because each earthtone strip is irregular and roughly torn, we plow though its rows at different speeds. Consequently, with its visual pulls heading in multiple directions, each canvas is endowed with an active use of space and irregular rhythms that seem to exude a chanting of many tonal voices.
Each group of stripes is composed of thickly and thinly applied bands of paint. Harrington invests much time finding and making tools that allow him to work the surface, while mixing his own recipes of products that yield his distinctly painterly look and feel. A composite of varying textural marks move across the canvas; they come from the artist’s hand, the instruments applied to the surface, and the chemical makeup of the paint mixture itself. The marks are highly controlled yet appear spontaneous, albeit in fairly straight, parallel lines.
Key factors in Harrington’s holistic approach are his personal life experiences, and a keen ability to see and combine relationships that others might not recognize. Harrington, an American, resides in
Lastly, there is Harrington’s knack for making connections and compressing more than we can absorb at once is impressive. There is a great deal to see, contemplate and relish in each work.