These paintings by Mark Burrell convey a rare command of a very peculiar ( and very English ) practice : for Mark is essentially a story – teller who employs pigment rather than words to construct allegories, fables and fictions. His fantastic narratives are as much concerned with plot, setting and character as they are with line, space and colour. The voyager’s, somnambulist’s, disposed dreamers and possessive ghosts who occupy Mark’s vision and picture plane are not, however, spectral inhabitants of an ethereal dreamscape. They sip tea and drink whiskey, mend fences, feed goldfish, grow prize cabbages and watch television, just like you and I, indeed ‘you and I’ are the raw material for Mark’s eye as he watches us going about our daily business.
These richly painted works come from a private world that sometimes touches the edge of dreams, but never falls into mere fantasy, for if we look we find a tight thread of reality running through them. The voyager’s, visionaries and physical ghosts who occupy his vision, sometimes mirror and occupy our own life journey, our feelings, uncertainty and our hopes.
The elaborate set-pieces which form the core of his work overflow with beautifully observed props: jugs, rugs, tables, chairs, flowers and televisions to ensure that Mark’s magic-realism is anchored in the everyday world and is informed by meticulous scrutiny of the particular. Through the very familiarity of these fixtures and fittings, the artist is free to manipulate space, viewpoint, perspective and picture-plane as a process for defamiliarisation, to make the familiar strange and the strange familiar. I would strongly recommend that people familiarise themselves with the work and world of Mark Burrell. That world will not seem quite the same place or space again.
In the past ten to fifteen Mark has had in excess of one hundred mixed and solo exhibitions. Included in his CV are many London galleries including the Royal Academy of Arts, with exhibitions held in Europe and New York, USA.
Along the way he has had more than his share of television exposure, winning first prize on the television program ‘Moving Art’ hosted by George Melly and Bill Oddie. In this program he was also interviewed by Sister Wendy Beckett about his work. Among his other awards the ‘Lucy Morrison memorial prize’ at the Royal Overseas League. His work has been reproduced in books, catalogues, newspapers, magazines and CD covers.