Rule 1: All is changing shape continuously
Over the years the visual language of Mark Verdoes has been orchestrated to perfection. His art seamlessly melts together the raw and undefined with the intellectual and sophisticated. Sometimes he collaborates closely with nature, guiding materials to follow their natural course which he calls the guided coincidence. Wet materials and drops are allowed to follow a whimsical, wild and unpredictable path. Other times, he is the steering creator, where every step is reasoned and he controls the progress of the painting to the smallest detail. The result is his contemporary vision of the cosmos, an orderly system full of seemingly random processes, in which all is connected.
Viewing the cosmos as a self-contained system – the antithesis of chaos – which contains all matter, energy and momentum, Mark Verdoes feels certain about one thing: all is changing shape continuously. The finite is a relative concept, as death is nothing more than a change of shape. As an artist, he attempts to visualise and capture moments during the metamorphosis.
The concept of ‘all is changing shape continuously’ is reflected in his use of unconventional materials, removed from their original application to find a new purpose in his work. Iron spatulas are transformed into vegetation, a cooking pot becomes a planet, brass wire grows into a tree and surgical scissors descend from heaven.
Mark Verdoes developed many original techniques to create his art. Much of his new work is based on mud, reflecting his strong preference for natural materials. The mud is collected throughout rural Rajasthan in India, where it varies in colour and structure. By exposing the mud to the sun, it dries and cracks appear – similar to what happens to the soil during drought. With a special glue recipe, he suspends this natural process in time. Seed pods of lotus flowers, reputedly taken from the private lake of the Maharadja of Udaipur, are dried and replanted in the mud on canvas, reflecting the Budhist saying ‘The lotus grows from the mud.’
Dust is another recurring element. Ashes from the fireplace of his Indian neighbours are strewn over the layers of paint. He also uses iron powder that is allowed to oxidize. Sometimes existing pieces of art, like bird ornaments from houses destroyed by an earthquake, find a next life in Verdoes’ work.
India seems to be a never ending source of materials. Shellac, used nowadays mainly to varnish musical instruments, is obtained from lac bugs and sold in dry flakes of varying colour. Dissolved in alcohol, the flakes become a varnish, which contrasts wonderfully with all other materials used. Due to the traditional clothing industry, a wide variety of natural pigments exists. During a trip to a small village in Rajasthan, Mark Verdoes found a source of natural indigo, one of the major ancient pigments, of intense blue colour which he incorporates into his artwork.
In his Dutch studio he sometimes works with photography, editing his own photographs and printing them on thin Japanese paper. Photographic elements, such as flowers, plants and butterflies – which also refer to metamorphosis – are integrated in the painting.
According to Mark Verdoes, art should be an experience, a stimulation to the viewer’s senses. When the viewer does not immediately understand what to perceive, the mind is forced to transcend the obvious. By evoking original thoughts, he hopes to open doors to other dimensions. Verdoes’ work is a reflection of how he experiences the world, and an attempt to visualise his views on the cosmos. It will be no surprise to you that Mark Verdoes feels strongly attracted to and inspired by the Tao, the source and destination of everything without beginning or end.