Emerging artist Jade van der Mark creates poignant portraits of contemporary society. Now based in London, van der Mark is using the city as a source of inspiration, sketching in the heart of the capital, documenting tube commutes and street life. Her large-scale portraits of city life, previously inspired by Amsterdam, now turn to London’s vibrant and diverse community.
Thick coats of oil paint give life to monumental textured canvases, rich in detail and complexity and majestic in size. The use of bold and abstracted colour palettes conveys a sense of sculptural depth, amplifying their gravitas. As each layer may take up to a week to dry, van der Mark’s paintings are the result of a laboured process lasting up to eight months. Containing multiple stories, which over the course of completion have been altered or painted over, her works unveil hidden narratives that encourage deeper reflection.
Set in decontextualized city spaces, van der Mark’s paintings speak to an overwhelming sense of disconnect that resonates globally. Jaded faces look past each other in crowded scenes, often directly confronting the viewer with glazed yet personalised and inquisitive expressions.
Diving into diverse identities, van der Mark reveals a vast network of personal stories that share the same spaces but lack connection. Colourful figures are representative of the artist’s belief in a shared humanity. Playful but profound, her works make the mundane vibrant and beautiful, with an edge of melancholia.
One of her latest works, We’re All Human, presents a densely populated crowd sprawling across a wide canvas, measuring over four meters in length and almost three in height. What seem like hundreds of city dwellers, distinguished through lively clothing and colourful faces, move across all directions. With almost no negative spaces between them, individuals remain fully engrossed in their own worlds, often shielded by phones, headphones and even pollution masks. A compelling sense of dynamism and unity is constantly undercut by the divisive compactness of the mass.
The attention to texture is crucial to van der Mark’s practice as a whole, which combines a passion of painting with an education in Fashion, obtained at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague. A self-taught weaver, she weaves her paintings into elaborate and distinctive items of clothing, works of art in and of themselves. During Milan Fashion Week 2016 she was awarded the Dutch Fashion Award for her exceptional designs.
One of the most exciting young artists to come out of the Dutch art scene this year, van der Mark was born in the town of Bergen, often regarded as an artists’ town due of its remarkable natural light. Home to the Bergen School of painters in the early 20th century, Bergen has been referred to as the birthplace of Dutch expressionism.
Van der Mark comments, “We exist in an era where the rise of sophisticated technological innovations has significantly impacted the way we relate with one another. Shameless dismissiveness is a new norm. With my work, I want to awaken and provoke.”
Van der Mark has showcased her work widely in the Netherlands and internationally, exhibiting in Amsterdam, Brussels, London, Dubai and Milan. These include a 2018 solo show at ING Headquarters in Amsterdam and participation in Salone Mobile Design Week in Milan in 2016.
The artist will have a solo show in London in 2020.