It was nice to have a walk through with artist Mark Innerst just before the opening of his solo show at Kohn Gallery the other night (April 6, 2018). We started on his latest – larger than usual – works. His paintings pay great attention to light and atmosphere – the presentation of the exhibition accentuates these.
Mark Innerst (striped shirt, facing) describing his technique on “Spectra”, 2018. Photograph by the author.
Whether created or recalled, there is always a feeling of being drawn into the work, wanting to be a part of it, to hold it as a precious object, a gem. His treatment of color and light never forgets to enjoy, to feel the paint being applied. This is clear always in his works, whether the thing being painted is abstracted, noted with an impression or using his brand of free-wheeling exactitude.
His commentary on the works revolved around these ideas, and he never said too much. He would pause at dramatic moments to capture the right word, and you’d find yourself paying close attention for what’s next. His paintings do these things too.
Walking up to his earlier small deep blue works spread around the huge, welcoming main gallery, you’re invited closer and closer until you find yourself in underground spaces, sometimes looking into them from above, feeling like you could dive in.
An arrangement of his gem-like blue paintings. Photograph by the author.
Like the Dutch masters, he understands the appeal of small works, and prefers them to doing larger works. “They pretty much did it. And their frames…” he says. Innerst often holds his paintings while working on them, at times utilizing the immediacy and feel of his finger with which to paint. He designs each of his frames and finishes them specially for each work.
A specifically wonderful example of this is “Old Florida,” 2018, a gorgeously immediate depiction of a palm tree against a stark blue sky. The frame acts to extend the picture plane, embracing, while expanding the work.
Innerst doesn’t leave people out in his treatment of light and location in time, his people are rendered with sure gestures quite simply, intimately, seemingly self-aware. In ‘Unrest,” 2018, he contrasts these elements quite beautifully. The buildings are tall, straight, and strong, immovable, protecting the people below. They are of each other, an entirely unique way of expressing a sense of community, of a specific place.
If you haven’t yet seen the exhibition, please do, there’s much to look at. It’s on view until May 23rd at Kohn Gallery, located at 1227 North Highland Ave., LA, 90038; http://www.kohngallery.com/
Juri Koll is a Venice-based artist, curator, writer and filmmaker and the Director of the Venice Institute of Contemporary Art and the Fine Arts Film Festival. He has written for the New York Times, the Huff Post, FABRIK, and other publications. Koll exhibits extensively; and one of his films was recently selected for the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution. https://www.veniceica.org/