A master of colour and machinery, Mark Chadwick is certainly a unique artist. Using a number of machine processes and natural forces such as gravity, he creates Abstract Paintings that are exploding with colour. In this way, he relinquishes some of his control as an artist, allowing chance to dictate the beautiful and intriguing forms that emerge on the canvas. We took a moment to catch up with Mark and find out some more about his work and where he finds inspiration.
Fluid Painting 76 by Mark Chadwick
Your paintings are bursting with colour. What role does colour play in your artwork?
Colour plays an important role in my work, and I have always been interested by the effects of colour and how they interact with one another. Relationships between colours cause something to happen - when it goes right, it directs the eye and holds the surface together. I aim for a liveliness with colour by creating tensions between neighbouring hues and contrasts of vibrant pigments. In the Fluid Paintings, colour is challenged by chance. I try not to overthink the colour and simply respond. I generally have a set amount of colour choices and allow the colours to almost make themselves through technique or process. Sometimes it works, sometimes not; other times I can use certain colours one day but not the next. Red and black can so easily dominate or turn a painting into mud fast, while yellow can turn green in a blink of an eye, but I enjoy the battle.
Spin Painting 33 by Mark Chadwick
Can you tell us a little bit about your process and the way you use machinery?
I use lots of different techniques and tools in my work, but my process is usually hinted at in the title of my paintings. So a ‘Spin Painting’ is spun on a machine I made myself, or a Tilt Painting is where the paint is applied across the surface and is tilted in different directions. The Fluid Paintings are more spontaneous - they are brought together by the artist's hand but manipulated by tools, process or natural forces. Generally they are built up of many layers of paint and use the translucency and viscosity of the paint to create the forms and colours. I would describe them as 'controlled to be uncontrolled', capturing a moment where the free flowing paint has almost been paused in time.
Tilt Painting 5 by Mark Chadwick
What do you think are the most important themes in your work?
Probably the most important themes in my work are the investigation of chance, colour and the qualities of paint. I am also fascinated by the concept of the role of the artist and what happens when an artist gives up full control. One way I do that is by interrupting the decision-making process of the artist or trying to break with habit and find new things. I do enjoy the idea of chance and discovering elements I hadn't thought of, and I like to respond to what happens on the canvas.
Where do you find inspiration for your art?
I find inspiration for my art everywhere, I hunt for it. Wherever I go, I'm on the lookout for stuff I could use. It might be a colour combination or a tool of some kind, and anything that intrigues me I will note down or take a picture. Nature is a good source of inspiration – I tend to observe the natural environment, from watching fluid formations of clouds go by to tree to examining rock formations that I hope to emulate in my Fluid Paintings. From the media I also collect pictures of space, lava flows and skies, especially the northern lights. Another source of inspiration is viewing other artists’ work, and I take any chance I get to visit galleries and see the latest works.
Flow Circles Arrangement No.2 by Mark Chadwick
How has your style changed over the years?
Over the years my style of working has changed quite a bit. I started focusing on my Mechanical Paintings using a number of crude machines and toys to make marks with, and over the years I have slowly moved towards developing more subtle or precise processes while trying to keep some of that element of wildness. As I have gained more experience, my Fluid Paintings have become more defined and controlled, with spontaneous occurrences. I also brought in some other series of works in the Tilt or Flow Circle paintings, experimenting with elements learnt from my Fluid series.
Fluid Painting 77 by Mark Chadwick
What is your proudest achievement as an artist?
I don't really think about stuff like that. I'm not somebody who likes to talk about what I've done or about myself. I don't announce when I've sold a work, but I am satisfied in creating an artwork that somebody loves. If one of my works can get that response then that's good enough for me!
If you could own any artwork in the world, which would you choose?
Well that's a troublesome question, it would be difficult to narrow it down to 100 and you're only allowing me the one! I guess if I must pick only one work then I will have to go with the work that got me into art in the first place, and that's 'The Fighting Temeraire' by J.M.W. Turner.