Kate Woodall, Curator, Te Manawa
Mark Cross’ paintings are more sur-real than real. They are part of a realist tradition that is concerned with portraying the subjective explorations of the landscape rather than any true physical representation. With his home base split between Niue and New Zealand, the landscapes depicted become symbolic generic versions.
The attention to detail and exactness that Mark accords to every leaf, stone and grain of sand creates a tension within the paintings. The scenes are strange, the very realism serving to emphasise the bizarreness of the subject matter. A frozen timelessness pervades that only heightens the disturbing unease.
Deceptively realistic then, the paintings are able to probe at some of the big issues concerning modern society: environmental disaster, nuclear proliferation, globalisation, third world exploitation and death. Mark forces us to face some ugly issues and we find humanity wanting.
The title of this exhibition is taken from a woodcut that Mark made in 1997. For him the phrase ’Have We Offended?’ encapsulates much of what his art, from the last 17-year, has sought to examine.