I love discovering new art, especially the quirky kind. After taking a stroll around Stratford market the other day, pulled along by the crowds, I came across many stalls selling art prints. One contained prints by the artist Mark Kaiser.
Mark Kaiser was born in 1971 in Worcestershire to Polish parents and has been painting and drawing since the age of three. He studied Design and Illustration at Suffolk University and after his graduation he was contacted by EMI Records who were particularly interested in an illustration he’d created out of burnt Chinese newspapers and this was subsequently seen by the then up-and-coming band Radiohead who wanted to entitle their EP ‘Chinese Burn’. The band loved it and exhibited the finished illustration in their house.
An EMI executive also said it was very unfortunate that Freddie Mercury of Queen had passed away a year earlier, as he would have really liked Mark’s style and would have been enthused to use it on a new album cover!
In 1995 Mark was commissioned along with his twin brother, Paul to produce a huge Renaissance-style painting on the altar wall of the Polish Church in Kidderminster. After many months of research, studying the work of the Great Masters in the National Gallery and talking to scenery painters in the West End, the painting was started. The whole experience gave them a taste of what life was like for Michelangelo working up on the scaffolding for hours on end. Two years later the project was complete and the painting featured on Central News and was visited by an Archbishop from the Vatican.
From an early age Mark was inspired by Eastern European and American folk art through Polish, Czech and Hungarian folk story-books containing imaginative illustrations. He was also infused by the creative, animated world of Dr Seuss. This can easily be seen through his work:
St. Paul’s Cathedral, 2009, oil on canvas.
Among his artistic inspirations are Gustave Baumann, Kawase Hasui, Sir Stanley Spencer, Peter Doig, Gustav Klimt, Alfred Sisley, Charles Ginner, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.
He says: “I paint from memories of places that I have been to, of people that I’ve met and atmospheres that have stuck in my mind. I’m interested in architecture and also the human need to call a place ‘home’. I like to put in characters to make a painting more colourful. Commissioned paintings usually contain the particular collector(s) as characters within the paintings. Each painting carries it’s own atmosphere through the colour, light, people, and background. There are calming moods, carnival atmospheres or simply subdued moods. I have this thing about perspective and sometimes we just don’t get on. So I create what feels right, not always what the laws of perspective might say. I find watching holiday programmes expands my imagination and I paint places I’d like to visit one day.”
Here is one of my favourite paintings from the print stall in Stratford:
Red Venice, 2005, oil on canvas.
As soon as I saw it I wanted it! The oil painting itself has been sold already, but I may purchase the print at some point.
I would also like to add that there was a steel drum band playing at the stalls too as I ate my bagel. This was entertaining enough, but then an old man strutted into the circle of people watching the performance, and started to do a sexy dance. Certainly made my day!