Mark Evans

Mark Evans is an artist who defies classification. He works to a monumental, epic scale, creating works that enthrall audiences with their power, their drama and their virtuoso technique.
Detailing a tigers eye in leather


And it is that technique and the medium he applies it to in service of his creative vision, which render classification redundant. Because, you see, he works entirely with strong, beautiful, expressive leather, working the surface of the material with an array of scalpels, knives and other tools to create his pieces. He is also extraordinarily successful with a body of shows, a global collector base and media interest built up over his 20-year career.

When you stand before a Mark Evans piece there is a tension at play – the viewer is compelled both to move back to take in the full spectacle and to get up close to explore the miniature world of carving, chiseling and shaving, mesmerised by the incredible lightness of touch that creates
such impact.

Creatively, he finds himself drawn to the muscular, the heroic and the fierce. His polo players, his boxers and his wildlife are visceral, magnetic pieces that leave an imprint long after the gaze moves on. It is not surprising that he cites Delacroix as a non-conformist worthy of our respect. But he also refuses to be pigeon-holed, moving on when he risks becoming overly known for any one genre, going off grid, moving into the shadows where the world isn’t watching, to consider, where next.
A restless nature also compels him to explore new techniques and he has set himself the challenge of interpreting Picasso’s Musketeers, attempting, with the use of blade on leather, to create the look and feel of rich impasto found in the original series. He also talks of his work becoming more perfect, more beautiful, more deft. His big cats and his tiger with golden eyes, created during lockdown are attracting a growing female collector base.

Mark Evans thinks deeply about the world and his awe-inspiring technique frequently serves as a vehicle for social commentary. His banknote series, started in 2005, several years before the financial crisis reveals him as an artist who is often several steps ahead of the world. The series also saw him perfect a new technique, almost three years in the making, penetration-dyeing and surface-tanning the leather, creating full-colour etched pieces for the
first time.

There is a toughness, a durability to a Mark Evans work that comes from the leather hide that goes into its creation. There is also the knowledge and respect for the creature who lives on in the art, transported from the prosaic – a by-product of the meat industry – to the sublime. Yet the medium of leather also exposes a fragility, when cut and transformed.
The contemplation of these two forces, the fleeting and the permanent are driving Mark Evans to explore the use of vellum in future works. We live in a world where digital formats increasingly preserve the moments that make up our collective memories. But we also risk losing those memories in a world where formats and hardware quickly become obsolete – named ‘bit-rot’ by internet pioneer Vint Cerf. The concept of digital vellum, proposed by Cerf in his 2016 TED Talk is one that fascinates Evans and which he intends to explore.
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