After returning from a number of years living and travelling abroad, New Zealand punk rock band Die! Die! Die! commissioned Mark to do the artwork for its 2007 album cover. Mark created a unique work for the album cover out of fabric using appliqué sewing techniques. This exposure led him to other commissions, including a painting for musician Mike Watt (Minutemen & Iggy & the Stooges).
Then, after meeting iconic 60s pop star Ray Columbus in 2008, Mark was inspired to develop his contemporary portrait series of influential musicians which is attracting critical and popular acclaim.
Mark follows a layered process, first meeting with and photographing his subjects with the help of photographer Petrice Rhodes. Mark then interprets the photographic portraits as large-scale hyper-real canvas paintings, effectively pausing on and magnifying a moment in time to offer a profoundly personal perspective on his subjects.
“I never set out to be a Hyper-realist artist, I just wanted to paint a series of portraits to the best of my ability”
His painting of Ray Columbus won the coveted People’s Choice award at the 2010 NZ Adam Portrait Award. His second painting in this series – of Californian musician Brant Bjork (Kyuss, Vista Chino) – has recently been accepted as a finalist in the prestigious NZ Wallace Art Awards, and Mark is currently working on a portrait of LA-based Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age).
“I am painting my absolute heroes. These musicians have inspired me with their music and it is a great honour to have the chance to meet them and interpret those encounters in my paintings.”
Mark has also meet with and photographed musicians Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees), Mike Watt, Warren Ellis (Dirty 3, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) and Omar Rodriguez Lopez (At The Drive-in, The Mars Volta), with a view to adding these musical legends to the portrait series.
Mark currently lives in Auckland where he continues to work on his portrait series and other projects, including his “Dead Heroes” portraits (ballpoint pen on Kauri timber block 100mm x 100mm).
Copyright Mark Rutledge 2013