Scoop Article, May 2003
Mark Cross "Recent Works" Exhibition
John Leech Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand May 6 to 31.
Exhibition Preview and Auckland book launch May 6, 5.00 pm
Mark Cross (born Auckland 1955) is a sculptor, writer, print-maker and installation artist but is more familiar to the New Zealand art public for his realist paintings that move from traditional landscape painting to employ the human figure as a vehicle for comment on the human condition.
In her introduction to a survey exhibition of the artist's work at Te Manawa, Palmerston North, curator Kate Woodall says:
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 bizareness 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.
Having a 30-year association with the island of Niue the artist has been permanently based there for the last 8 years and during this time has exhibited in Brisbane (Queensland Art Gallery, Asia Pacific Triennial 3), Sydney (Olympic Arts Festival), Palmerston North (Te Manawa), Hawaii (dealer gallery) and Rarotonga (Cook Is National Museum). As a consequence of these overseas commitments, this is the first time in 9 years that the artist has been able to have a solo exhibition in his hometown AUCKLAND.
Besides his paintings Cross has been involved in a number of interesting art projects over the last few years. In 1997, with the help of several other artists and family members he established a sculpture park in the rain forest in Liku, Niue - an ongoing project. In 1999 he coordinated, curated and participated in, the Tulana Mahu (Shrine to Abundance) a collaborative, mobile art installation set inside a shipping container that travelled to Brisbane, Sydney, Auckland, Palmerston North (NZ) and Rarotonga.
The opening of this exhibition will incorporate the Auckland launch of a book of the artist's work of the last two decades.