Mark Wallinger (Born 1959)
Turner prize winner Mark Wallinger is best known for his 1999 sculpture displayed on the empty fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. His sculpture 'Ecce Homo' a life-sized statue of a Christ figure - naked apart from a loin cloth and a barbed wire crown upon his head, hands bound behind his back, tittering on the edge of the plinth, proved very popular with the public and critics alike. Dwarfed by the public realm around him, he stood there as the millennium turned to mark 2,000 years since Christ birth.
Mark Wallinger, one of Britain's foremost contemporary artists was born in 1959 in Chigwell, Essex. He went on to study art at Chelsea School of Art but disillusioned as a figurative painter, he moved to Goldsmiths after working in the radical Book shop Collette's where Mark Wallinger was inspired and fired up by such reads as; EP Thompson's 'The Making of the English Working Class'. Mark Wallinger set out "to make an art that connected with the world and with a public beyond a small esoteric coterie. I wanted to say something about how images are used to coerce or incentivise or whip up the best and the worst in people. But it couldn't be propaganda. I wasn't at speakers' Corner or standing for election. It did have to be art."
In 1991 Mark Wallinger exhibited a series of full length portrait paintings of the homeless called "Capital" at the ICA in London, that were quickly snapped up by Charles Saatchi.
Although older than most of the YBS, In 1993 Mark Wallinger's works were exhibited at the Young British Artist's II show at the Saatchi Gallery. Included in the exhibition was Mark Wallinger's "Race, Class, Sex" a series of majestic paintings of stallions from the stud of a foreign sheikh. With the money Mark Wallinger received for the works, he bought himself a real racehorse, sadly 'A Real Work of Art' only ran once before retiring injured.
However, 'A Real Work of Art' lives on in Mark Wallinger's 1993 sculpture, 'A Real Work of Art', signed edition of 50. Height: 120 mm, a painted die cast metal statuette mounted on a wood base and numbered on the saddle. And Mark Wallinger's 2011 sculpture 'The White Horse', polyester resin and chalk powder, 19.2 x 26.8 x 6.3 cm, signed edition of 30.
Mark Wallinger says in an article for the Guardian "I actively resisted using racing for quite a long time as it was a love and a passion of mine that I liked to have separate from art. But as an artist, in the end, you use everything, and it became irresistible as it is so rich in ways that tie together some of the themes I had previously tried to articulate: questions of how the breed was created and of lineage, the sheer beauty of the animals, the registering of colours and, of course, the whole idea of betting. But I admit there has been a little bit of shining daylight on magic, and it has taken some of the edge off my fun."
Other racing related works by Mark Wallinger include: 'Self-Portrait as Emily Davidson', 1993, a photograph of Mark Wallinger dressed as a female jockey in the racing colours of purple, white and green - the colours of the suffragette movement, the photograph is taken on the exact spot at Epsom race course that Emily Davidson the suffragette threw herself in front of the Kings horse 80 years earlier. Pantomime horses also play a part in works such as; 'Full English', signed print (photograph) 1993, edition of 30. And Mark Wallinger's most famous equine image 'Ghost', signed print (Silkscreen), 2001, 51 x 43 cm, edition of 500.
'Ghost' was born from a lightbox picture taken from the famous old painting of the mortal horse Whistlejacket, and without at all reworking, it utterly transforms it, into an otherworldly unicorn.
Tom Lubbock of the Independent says of the work "The existent image is George Stubbs' huge and extravagant horse painting of 1762, Whistlejacket. A grand dark-bay stallion, with a wild look, rearing in a formal "levade", against an entirely blank light-brown background.
Mark Wallinger, retaining the original size of the painting 9ft high subjects it to three simple operations. First, it's turned into a black-and-white photograph. Second, it's turned into a negative, the tonality reversed. Third, the horn of a narwhal whale (traditionally identified with the horn of the unicorn) is montaged onto its brow.
With Mark Wallinger's brilliance the empty background becomes a deep night. The dark, suddenly-rearing horse becomes a lightning-struck apparition. And the reversed shading of its body gives it a weird and spectral substance. That's the general effect but several further felicities emerge, as small details of Whistlejacket come to new life under this transformation.
The stallion's dark, flared nostrils glow as if filled with molten white heat. Its fine-combed mane becomes a ridge of licking smoky flames. Its front hooves glow like horseshoes from the forge. And the abrupt little darts of shadow, with which Stubbs attached the two back hooves to a notional ground, become fiery jets.
The metamorphosis is rich in implication. Translating naturalism into supernaturalism, Mark Wallinger's Ghost synchs the two dominant strains of English art: Stubbs' observational study is shown to hold within it a spiritual vision by Blake or Fuseli. The work resembles one of those conservatorial X-rays of an Old Master painting, which reveals the image that lies hidden beneath. It also suggests spirit photography, the camera revealing the invisible."
Myths and ghosts are also explored in Mark Wallinger's work 'Time and Relative Dimensions in Space'. Mark Wallinger is unafraid of being humorous and profound all at once. At the Oxford Museum of Natural History in 2000 Mark Wallinger captured the imagination of children and showed them something about what a museum is for. He plonked a replica of Doctor Who's Tardis on the lawn outside, and hid another inside, in a location which meant the two could never be seen at the same time. It played with the ideal of the museum as a repository of time and memory - at once a time machine, covering millennia of the earth's past, and also something far larger than its physical limits could contain.
The following year when asked to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale. Mark Wallinger entered a Tardis built from polished stainless steel which reflected the audience back at themselves, creating an extra dimension through the mirrored surface.
1995 saw Mark Wallinger nominated for the Turner Prize, but lost out to Damien Hirst. In 1997 Mark Wallinger exhibited at the seminal Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy and created the mesmerizing film 'Angel'. An everyman, dressed in black trousers, white shirt and dark glasses, recites the opening of the Gospel of St John - "in the beginning was the Word". But he spoke the verses backwards while walking to a standstill on the up escalator at the Angel Tube station, and then showing the film backwards on the side of the South Bank Centre. The familiar words sounded in a weird and unfamiliar way.
Mark Wallinger also created the video work 'The Underworld', a video work based on the 1982 BBC TV recording of Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem conducted by Claudio Abbado. And in 2004 created the limited edition print 'The Underworld', edition of 150 and signed in pencil Mark Wallinger.
Experimenting with new mediums; Mark Wallinger created a set of potato prints; now residing at the Tate gallery. 'King Edward and the Colorado Beetle', refers to crop destruction. The Colorado beetle of the title is a small, yellow American beetle whose larva is exceedingly destructive to the potato. Mark Wallinger's potato print uses as its medium the potential victim of the insect. The image of the beetle is repeated five times on the print, with the strongest print at the centre surrounded by increasingly weaker prints. The arrangement of the beetles suggests that these five represent only a tiny section of an endlessly repeating pattern, hinting at the overwhelmingly profuse aspect of the insect world. 'King Edward and the Colorado Beetle' unique, edition of 105, signed in pencil Mark Wallinger.
Mark Wallinger made the national news with his two and half hour film 'Sleeper'. It features Mark Wallinger wearing a golden bear suit wandering around The Neue Nationalgaleriean in Berlin and peering through the windows at passersby. Mark Wallinger spent nine nights in a row prowling the building. "It was incredibly hot work - three, four hours was my limit. But I had fun. People started leaving honey." He said. 'Sleeper' - another name for a double agent - evokes the history of Germany and the Cold War. In 2004 Mark Wallinger created the signed c-print photograph 'Sleeper', 29.2 x 37 cm. Edition of 200, signed Mark Wallinger.
In 2007 Mark Wallinger won the Turner prize with his film 'Sleeper' and for his Tate Britain exhibition 'State Britain'. 'State Britain', is a recreation of Brian Haw's protest display outside parliament. Mark Wallinger raises challenging questions about issues of freedom of expression and the erosion of civil liberties in Britain today.
Mark Wallinger explains in the Guardian interview with Nicholas Wroe 'A life in art: Mark Wallinger', "Modern Britain exhibits a timidity compared with previous generations about works in the public realm, that's part of the reason why Brian Haw's protest was so fascinating. I'd been following it for a couple of years and was very surprised that people weren't more up in arms about this exclusion zone that had been imposed. Not least about the stupidity of making a law essentially to get rid of Brian, just about the only person left in Britain still protesting about the war."
Just before Haws was evicted, Mark Wallinger spoke to him about the project and took 800 photographs. Mark Wallinger fabricated exact copies of all Haws's paintings, placards, banners, gifts from the public and general bric-a-brac. By the time it was exhibited at Tate Britain "the museum had become the only place where you could see this thing. And the fact that it was a remake boggled the mind. It wasn't that old trick of co-opting a found object. It was very satisfactory as an artwork, and it highlighted how amazing the document was that Brian had made."
Mark Wallinger's primary concern has been to establish a valid critical approach to the 'politics of representation and the representation of politics' and has often explored issues of the responsibilities of individuals and those of society in his work. In 2008 Mark Wallinger created the signed screen print 'Mark Wallinger is Innocent', edition of 50, signed Mark Wallinger.
In 2009 Mark Wallinger won the contest to create Britain's largest piece of public art - dubbed the Angel of the South, it was to be a giant 170ft high white race horse towering over Ebbsfleet in Kent. However, the project was put on hold due to the economic climate.
The book 'Mark' by Mark Wallinger was published in 2011 and successfully negotiates the various themes throughout Mark Wallinger's oeuvre into a highly comprehensive and informative text. 'Mark', signed first editions were published in 2011, edition of 50, each copy is individually hand painted on the front cover by Mark Wallinger and is accompanied with an inscribed numbered certificate.
Quarto. Original black cloth, titles to front cover hand painted in white paint by Mark Wallinger. Housed in the publisher's 4mm thick acrylic slipcase.
Mark Wallinger continues to work from his Soho studio in London.
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