Mark Demsteader

Biography

Mark Demsteader's beautiful and powerful figurative work has developed from a fascination with both the human form and classical themes.

His close observation combines with intriguing surface texture and carefully balanced composition to create unique representations of the female figure with overtones of both innocence and eroticism. Focusing on the face of his model but moving into more abstract territory with the rest of the figure, each piece explores the enigmatic nature of individuality and reflects the artist’s interest in the concept of ambiguity.

Over the last three decades Mark has brought together classical painting techniques and academic drawing in a style one critic has described as “a classicism made modern.” His celebrated work has been variously compared to that of Turner for his “elemental storminess” and to the Pre-Raphaelites for their evocative narrative voice. Alongside the underlying serenity of each piece however, there is a tension and abstraction which establishes his work as dynamic, innovative and distinctly contemporary. Mark has appeared on numerous occasions in the national press in recent times, everywhere from Tatler to the Daily Telegraph. He has painted many famous faces, and his celebrated series of portraits of Emma Watson was featured in Vogue. His list of celebrity collectors crosses cultural and national boundaries taking us from motor racing to ballet, and includes Angelina Jolie, Nicolas Cage, Erin O Connor, Mike Catt, Eddie Jordan, Grant Nicholas, Marianela Núñez, Tamara Rojo and Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe.

The paintings in his most recent collections explore movement, dynamism and expression, yet they exude intimacy, sensuality and sensitivity. Mark shies away from what he calls “a drawing that is tight and overworked”, and embraces the spontaneous and even the accidental. He favours absorbent, handmade Indian paper called Khadi as the natural ingredients in it such as grasses and leaves add another element of unpredictability to the finished composition. He employs a variety of mediums including oil, gouache, charcoal and pastel; he says: “I start very abstract with lots of texture using paint and wax and scrapers then move on to glazes and other refinements, but I have no set process.”

Mark was born in Manchester in 1963 and still lives and works there. After studying in Oldham and then the Slade he spent some years working on his life drawing before committing to a life in art. Since those days he has received the Public Eye Award, the Lyceum Prize and the Sidney Andrews Scholarship. His paintings feature in many important collections and current demand for his work reflects his growing reputation. Over the last 30 years he has exhibited and sold his work across Europe, North and South America, Australia and South East Asia.

Mark Demsteader media