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MARK O'DONOVAN

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Artist's Statement

I have not painted since those early restless years when I rebelled against social norms and lived remotely. There were times when I would make a painting or a painted life size figure just to destroy it (and put to rest something which had been eating at me). Back then I loved painting: My works were passionate and expressionistic. I approached my work ritualistically and believed in its deeper purpose. I learned to paint by moonlight because the choice of colour is overridden by its tone. It was during this highly experimental phase that I started painting on textiles applied to board, a practice I have pursued to date with astounding results. 

 

Finally now I am getting back into my own work, developing ideas in painting and sculpture and looking to really hone my skills in areas of focus. I set out by looking at works of masters which speak to me. I look around in my daily life and respond to certain things: A piece of ‘vacant land’ where district six had been, a graveyard, the neglect, the abandonment. I trust my instinct and discover levels of meaning as the work progresses.

 

I started where I left off those many years ago; drawn to ritual, drawn to conscious intent, drawn to layering: I start with African wax print on board - bright patterned colour - and then work with pigments sourced in South Africa from the earth. I seldom ‘paint’. I PUT the mark down….. in sharp focus. I want my work to be approached from a distance, in which the whole is seen to be exquisite, and then the closer one gets, the more crass and messy or brutal and neglectful the detail is seen to be. All landscape has such history. Each plot of ‘vacant land’, a history, a present and a future potential.

 

My work is undoubtedly African.

 

Biography

 

Mark qualified as an Engineer in his early twenties; worked in mining, software development and research in succession and realised that he was not cut out to pursue a career as a conventional Engineer. It was a controversial time in the history of South Africa and he was restless and rebellious. He studied fine art by correspondence. At some later point he got involved in a workshop conducted by Dutch group Dogtroep and was immediately drawn to their working method and results. He worked with Dogtroep on a number of occasions on projects in South Africa and then later with Warner & Consorten (Warner von Wely was a founder of Dogtroep) in the Netherlands and on European tour. 

 

On returning home he founded the group ‘Odd Enjinears’ which he co-directed with Dutch working partner Geert Jonkers. They made site specific productions with curious technology and invented musical instruments. They reinvented theatre using no words with a unique blend of sculpture, music, machines and performance; making highly successful shows in for example a BlackSmith Forge (Cape Town), an old power station (Grahamstown), or, in a dungeon in a castle (Cape Town). For each project they would put together an inventive team, responding to the particular opportunities of each location and approaching technology with the creative instincts of artists. Odd Enjinears played all the major festivals in South Africa, did a range of projects in Cape Town and toured in Holland in 2001; taking their enthusiastic (and cult like) audience on an adventurous journey of the imagination.

 

Mark went on to build a wide range of public art works, private commissions and works for theatre; music machines, water driven ‘sculptures’ and children’s play structures. Sculpture in motion is the general link and since motion causes sound, repeated motion is music. Mark has repeatedly returned to the theme of an orchestra of invented musical “machines”. His works have been and are in many places around Cape Town including a work outside the Iziko National Gallery in Government Gardens, water features in the Old Biscuit Mill, Salt River and Greenmarket Square, Cape Town (these works were removed during the Cape Town drought in 2018 - public did not grasp that the water was recycled); on Pepper Street in Cape Town; in Mitchelsplain Town Centre and a number of works in Knysna’s Woodmilllane Centre. He has also been involved in international ‘social intervention projects’ as a specialist member of the team (for Dutch groups Cascoland – in South Africa and Holland, and for Theater Embassy in Peru).

 

More recently he oversaw the workshops, skills development and then making of all the artworks for a new hospital in Khayelitsha near Cape Town (completed in 2012) and then took on the directorship of Greatmore Studios in Woodstock (2012 to 2016); an arts hub of support for career development in the arts.

 

Mark currently juxtaposes periods of intense focus on art making and private commissions, with working in the film industry; in Art Direction, Set Design and Construction Drawings.

 

AVAILABLE WORK

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MOD Vacant Land I.jpg

Mark O'donovan

Vacant Land I

Mixed media on board

Framed in aluminium

80 x 120 cm

R85 500 

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Mark O'donovan

Vacant Land II

Mixed media on board

Framed in aluminium

80 x 120 cm

R85 500

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Mark O'donovan

Vacant Land III

Mixed media on board

Framed in aluminium

80 x 120 cm

R85 500

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Mark O'donovan

Cederberg I

Mixed media on board

Framed in aluminium

81 x 62 cm

R38 000

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Mark O'donovan

Cederberg II

Mixed media on board

Framed in aluminium

81 x 62 cm

R38 000

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Mark O'donovan

Cederberg III

Mixed media on board

Framed in aluminium

81 x 62 cm

R38 000

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Mark O'donovan

Cederberg IV

Mixed media on board

Framed in aluminium

81 x 62 cm

R38 000

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MOD MARCH LILLIES I.jpg

Mark O'donovan

March Lillies I

Oil and Acrylic on Canvas

Unframed

80 x 120 cm

R68,100

MOD MARCH LILLIES II.jpg

Mark O'donovan

March Lillies II

Oil and Acrylic on Canvas

Unframed

80 x 120 cm

R68,100

MOD MARCH LILLIES III.jpg

Mark O'donovan

March Lillies III

Oil and Acrylic on Canvas

Unframed

80 x 120 cm

R68,100

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