Mark Burt’s recent sculptures, masks and large photos – he will show them at the Ro2Gallery in Dallas, opening Saturday, December 9, 2017 – look like science fiction or visions from the continent of Africa or tribal life in the Americas. But their denotation is immaterial to the artist. He says, “The sculptures and illustrations I create are studies of the otherworldly creatures that are ever changing, ever reforming, and ever metamorphosing according to the psyche of whoever is viewing them.”
Burt was once known for highly-detailed drawings, often rendered in black and grey tones. In recent work, however, he has been sculpting; he is making branching, stand-alone forms. His work is steadily colorful. “The Cuddle Doobies, which I have sort of affectionately named them, are the plants and wildlife of this Dark Place reality, but they are structural in nature so that they can inhabit the real world in our homes or offices as well. They are always changing, which is why they can exist as these brain-like clumps, as tree-like structures or even as beings that are more designed.
He has also created a series of muscular and forbidding masks. His medium is felted wool. Recently he wanted to see his masks worn by humans in a provocative landscape. To realize his vision he went to artist Stephanie Fernandez, known for her painted faces.
Under Burt’s direction Fernandez shot a series of photos sure to dominate a display space. Burt and Fernandez conjured a painted skin for the nude models. The makeup evokes the lines of the Dutch abstract painter Mondrian. The masked humans look aboriginal.
Burt calls the mysterious beings Mungawomps. “The Mungawomps are the people I’ve created who live in what we’ll call the Dark Place, and they are humanoid in nature and very closely resemble us, albeit with a very alien appearance.They are like us in the way that they are searching for happiness in what is a desolate, uncertain plane, and in this search, they are faced with many distractions.”
As a person who has written about Burt’s work for some time I can see that a creative explosion has occurred. The branching figures have multiplied and matured in form. Eye-grabbing baubles have sprouted in the masked visages. Burt’s figures’ veined skins make a dramatic presence in the otherworldly landscapes.
His work with the nationally-known makeup artist Fernandez has been fertile.
In December his show, “Through the Dark Place” will challenge viewers in Dallas. It will be on view from December 9 thru January 6. On Saturday, January 6, he will deliver an artists talk at Ro2 Gallery.
Additionally, artist Georganne Deen, a mentor to Burt, will present a solo show in Ro2 Art’s experimental space. She is a fellow Lizard Cult member, originating from Fort Worth and now living in Joshua Tree, California.