Mark Dober makes paintings and drawings in the landscape. His response comprises a blend of the observed and imagined - he views the landscape from a poetic perspective.
Mark completed his PhD in Painting at Monash University – an investigation in theory and practice of plein air painting. Over the last few years he has been working on paper in watercolour, gouache, and mixed media, with a focus on working to a large scale. His earlier theme of the pastoral landscape has extended to include forests, grasslands and the bucolic. He makes repeated visits to a small number of sites. The nine works in this exhibition feature the Nymphaea at the Melbourne Botanical Gardens.
The work explores a tension between connectedness – an enjoyment of being amongst nature – and otherness (for nature is not a world of our making). Skeletal trees upright and lying dead on the forest floor, twisted and leaning tree trunks, contorted and curling branches, piled up rocks, weedy and spiky looking plants, the remnants of mining past – can seem uncommunicative, strange and even surreal. Yet simultaneously, the beauty of the bush and its living environment beckon. These opposing qualities inform his response.
Plein air practise is an assertion of engagement with nature. It expresses self-awareness, aliveness, physicality, and continuity. It can be viewed as an implicit critique of, or at least presents an alternative to, an urbanised, globalised, consumerist society overly dependent on the technology of smart phones and the internet. To make work en plein air is to assert that nature is a metaphor for reality, in contrast to the fractured and virtual world of screen culture.
“I want the viewer to experience a sense of immersion by physically engaging in the activity of viewing that mirrors my own physical engagement when making the work. The larger the size of my work the more it embodies our experience of landscape. As I sit on the ground making my work I address the near – what is immediately about me – and the far – the distant horizon and overarching sky. The whole of landscape – micro and macro – is experienced as environment.” Mark Dober
In his work each element of the landscape is represented with its own particularity and character: He lays in skies with broad transparent washes of watercolour; rocks are likely to be defined with a patterning of dots suggestive of granular texture; grasses, foliage and branches are represented by thin, straight or curved lines of differing lengths and configurations. His pictorial language can tend to the symbolic; a patterning is apparent. Art influences that have helped shape this character in his work are: Van Gogh, Cezanne and Cubism, Paul Nash, and David Hockney. You see this approach too in the work of Albert Namatjira.
“I believe one of the important functions of art is to inspire and give pleasure, particularly where landscape is concerned. Beauty offers much when this is art’s mission. Beauty has a universal appeal and significance; it gives meaning and value to people’s lives, and encourages an engagement with the world around us. Beauty has a broad application to how we experience life itself. It offers hope in our troubled times. For my own work I seek a beauty that can well convey the essential humanism of painting as an intuitive art form.” Mark Dober
More information about the artist
Image Nymphaea Summer Mark Dober
“I am not one of those artists who produce beautiful neat work. My hands, used to farming and mining, are not delicate or steady enough to do intricate and detailed work. I love making and creating artwork!”
This exhibition was inspired by Mo’s belief that animals can provide guidance to us as we move through life. An eagle soaring overhead as she walked gave her inspiration to develop a body of work that observes the animal world and encourages us all to take care of them. As a mixed media artist Mo has had the opportunity to travel and exhibit which has garnered her commitment to her practice.
Image: Soaring Rapters Mo Skett