Mark Dickson Art


One of the most provocative aspects of the word “landscape” is it’s openness to interpretation. It can be literal, a traditional reference to the world around us or representational depictions of natural features.  It can be metaphorical, alluding to the responses of the human heart and mind to the environment.  And in some instances, landscape can describe the intersection of the physical and spiritual perception of a sense of place.

That is the landscape Mark Dickson paints- the region filtered through his acute understanding of the place in which he lives.  The result is lyrical abstraction, works on paper and paintings that combine luxurious surface texture with bursts of color.

Dickson was born in Boulder in 1946, a fifth-generation Coloradan who knows the impact of light and land on an artist.  Dickson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1969 from the Metropolitan State College of Denver, then entered Pratt Institute’s Graduate School of Fine Arts.  While in New York, He taught gifted high school students.  In the early 1970’s he returned to Colorado, earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Denver, and began a teaching career at St. Thomas Seminary College in Denver.  There he became director of humanities an assistant Professor of Art, while continuing to paint and work on paper, and exhibit widely.  That he left Colorado, and returned, indicates not just preference for a place to live, but also a setting that can inspire. 

But by 1980 , Dickson was ready to devote his time solely to making art that is all about color, form and light,  Dickson has described himself a a frantic painter, one who will proceed on a piece until it tells him it is complete. Though a viewer’s first impression may be of ethereal works that resemble cloud-like accumulation of paint, this sense of lightness belies the amount of oil on these heavily worked surfaces.  His sense of color is sure, his compositions striking in the contrasts of organic fields set against an occasional geometric form, and his painterly marks are the sign of an artist who works in concert with the image before him. 

In some instances, he proceeds from the edge of the canvas in the center, turning the paintings around to promote a process of painting and repainting until confluence and conflict are resolved.  That can build an energy in the center, but Dickson also addresses the edges an corners with a special interest.  This is true in the 2004 Untitled 129, where a spectrum of blues an greens flood the canvas, yet at the upper left hand corner a bracket of white serves to pull everything together.

In recent years, the concept of landscape has become a less specific connection in Dickson’s work.  But his color field paintings reflect the influence of a place where space, light and color are as tangible as a geologic formation.

                                                                              - Mary Voelz Chandler

                                                                                                              from Colorado Abstract

                                                                                                              Fresco Fine Art Publishing, 2009

About Mark Dickson