Mark Youd is an artist working in Southerndown, near Cardiff on the South Wales coast. He trained as a draughtsman and, in parallel to a successful career as a designer and technical illustrator, he has developed his personal artistic practice, challenging the traditional approach to portraiture and to painting itself.

His Fragment XIV painting was awarded first prize in Y Galeri Caerffili’s 2016 Open Art competition. The judges made the following comment

Mark uses paint intelligently and creatively, varying the surface textures and marks, building forms which oscillate between the novel and the familiar. The image moves in the viewer’s mind from a pure exploration of oil and acrylic paint, into a more clearly understood organic form and into a fragmented human face, before the quality of the paint and its application return the viewer to an appreciation of the image’s more abstract qualities. Of the three paintings by Mark Youd, Fragment XIV was the image the judges felt best demonstrated these qualities”.

The Palette Pages is so happy to feature the incredible work of such a bold artist.  They say eyes are the window to the soul, Youd often cleverly leaves a vacant space in place of the eyes focusing the viewer on the abstracted portrait and giving more depth to the overall composition.  Youd’s work deserves appreciation, deserves to be lingered upon, they are artworks of glimpses that require time to enjoy.

Youd is one of 70 artists selected for FLUX Exhibition at Chelsea College of Arts London 12th – 16th July.  We urge you to visit and view his work in person. The texture and technique, the deconstruction and geometry all need to valued in person and not online to really see the strength his work has.

Thank you Mark Youd for sharing your work with us.

Self taught or art school?

I trained as a technical draughtsman, but when we moved from drawing boards to computers I missed the inky fingers and began to draw and paint for myself. Working freelance gave me the opportunity to gradually spend more and more time at the easel until I was eventually painting full-time.

If you could own one work of art what would it be?

I would like to hang a Euan Uglow painting in the hallway outside my studio, one of his studies of the female back, maybe Double Square, Double Square. It would challenge me every morning to see the complex structure of my subject in minute detail yet also search for its simplification and to find relationships between the planes of the form through careful shifts in tone.

Or, if I had the space for it, perhaps a Rothko, so I could lose myself in it at the end of the day.

How would you describe your style?

I paint, draw and sculpt abstracted portraits that are rarely about specific individuals but are trying to express something universally human.

I apply paint in a heavily textured impasto that is often scraped and scratched with knives and wire brushes. I want a sculptural physicality to my images, a sense of materiality, of weight and volume, for the deconstruction of the portrait that might show something just as tangible.

Where are your favourite places to view art?

The National Museum in Cardiff has a wonderful collection, it’s not far from my studio and it’s virtually next door to Kooywood gallery who I’ve exhibited with this year, so I can deliver a painting to them and then wander the museum as a treat.

I love the Tate galleries and the National Portrait Gallery, many good days have been spent there, learning from the greats. The Giacometti room of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark is beautiful but for the combination of art and place I have to say the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is my favourite.

Who are your favourite artists and why?

This answer would change almost daily. In teaching myself art history I’m constantly discovering artists that help me in some way clarify my ideas or show me new ways of approaching my work, but I feel most affinity with the artists working in post-war Britain; Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach, Henry Moore, Lynn Chadwick, et al. They were building on the art that came from Europe earlier in the century while also dealing artistically with what they had witnessed and considering what it means to be human in the era of atomic threat and our rush into space.

Currently, I’m really excited by Antony Gormley’s work. He manages to combine maths, science, nature and spirituality into art that is both profound and publicly accessible.

What or who inspires your art?

Living and working so close to the cliffs of Glamorgan Heritage Coast, I’m fascinated by the natural processes of geology, of erosion, of the corrosion of metals, the effects of environment and time on materials. I bring these textures to my work and this is my contribution to the long tradition of artists considering the figure in the landscape.

I often describe my work in terms of the damaged and weathered treasures of ancient civilisations, and regular visits to the British Museum keep that inspiration fresh.

Another exciting avenue of investigation for me is the study of motion and its effect on the face. By encouraging distortions in the paint I’m opening the work up to psychological interpretations that I could not have planned in advance.

Where’s your studio and what’s it like?

My studio is in Southerndown in the Vale of Glamorgan, about 40 minutes west of Cardiff. It’s a beautifully light space with views of the cliffs and sea from two windows and farmland from a third. I also have another room dedicated to printmaking with a table-top etching press and drawing benches.

Do you have any studio rituals?

I’m a methodical painter so my whole process is a kind of ritual, but I always work barefoot with loud music on and I usually drink my coffee cold because I’ve been concentrating for the hour since I made it.

What are you working on currently?

My focus is working toward my next solo exhibition, at Redhouse Cymru, and I’m continuing to develop my Fragments series alongside printmaking and sculpture.

Where can we buy your art?

My work is regularly on display and available from Y Galeri, Caerphilly and Kooywood Gallery, Cardiff and I’m delighted to have been selected to exhibit at Flux Exhibition, in London this Summer. If you miss any of those shows then visitors are always welcome to the studio gallery.

What are your ambitions?

I hope my work would make it into public collections some day, maybe even to be hung on the same walls that my heroes displayed on in their time. For now, I’m honoured to have collectors that are as passionate about my work as I am, they encourage me to dream that big!


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