Born 1968. Pasadena, California
Lives and works in Los Angeles
The original inspiration for Mark Grotjahn’s paintings came from shop signs. Living in Los Angeles, he became intrigued in the mid 1990s by the handmade signs he saw in stores. He began to copy those he liked and presented his versions to the storeowners. As such, his origins have something in common with early pop art or the development of some graffiti artists who have crossed over into mainstream art. His first monochrome abstractions began with a cartoon-like mask or face that was then ruled over and gradually obliterated. Later Mark Grotjahn began working with coloured pencils to develop “perspective drawings” and then perspectival paintings. His paintings and drawings expand and contract from a central vanishing point. Sometimes he signs his initials very visibly on the front of the painting as part of the process of building up the surface of the painting in a series of layers. This layered surface contrasts markedly to the smooth surfaces of ‘hard edge’ painting, also a reference point for his work, where surfaces were painted smoothly eradicating any suggestion of the artists’ hand.
Mark Grotjahn’s paintings and drawings blur the boundaries between abstraction and representation. The artist combines numerous artistic languages and practices in his work. He believes in a contemplative approach to making art where external influences and internal logic amalgamate to produce work that is intuitive, intricately detailed and beautiful.