A multimedia artist fluent in drawing, painting, animation and film, Mark Andres recently enjoyed a triumph at the Independent Filmmakers Showcase in Los Angeles, where his film The Somnambulists won for best animated film. His August exhibition at Augen Gallery in Portland reveals his excellent painting skills in a romantic landscape show called Astoria, My Astoria.
While this body of work includes scenes of Portland, it does indeed focus on that coastal town at the mouth of the Columbia River. We have scenes of the sea, the street and where the two meet, simplistic versions with minimal narrative. As the artist claims in his statement, the works are more about the how of the landscape experience than about the what.
Stylistically, they pay some tribute to German Expressionism and Fauvism. Astoria itself can have one foot on the dark side and the other on the quaint and Andres instinctively plays up to that contrast. Calling landscape painting a public act and inside job, he creates works that meander between sentimentality and just-the-facts.
Paintings such as Astoria at Night and Wreck at Twilight in particular are universal in their presentation, yet very Astoria at the same time. The palette is cool and limited and the strokes are broad. The mood is almost as dreamy as that of the Symbolist Albert Pinkham Ryder, but still carries the gist of the 21st century.