Oil painting by Mark Alexander - Face on white canvas on artist's easel with red studio background.

Mark Alexander

Born in Horsham, UK, Mark Alexander is a British artist who embarked on his art career later than most. Despite leaving school with no qualifications, his ingenuity led him to obtain a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Oxford University's Ruskin School of Art as a mature student in 1996.

His artwork, characterised by a distinctive style, has been showcased in various venues around the world. Some of the places where his work has been exhibited include Haunch of Venison and the Royal Academy in London, Saatchi Gallery, Broadway 1602 Gallery in New York, Centre Pompidou Foundation in Paris, Kunsthalle in Basel, and Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. His beginnings and unique journey into the art world continue to inspire many who are familiar with his work.

Early Life and Unexpected Beginnings

Mark Alexander, who spent his youth as a farm boy in the South of England, demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt to various social milieus and spheres of labour. For years, he worked diligently in aerospace machine manufacturing, moving up from charge-hand to engineer. His qualifications were based primarily on imagination and adaptability rather than formal education. In 1993, his extraordinary talent caught the public's attention when he made headlines in the national press as the 'Factory Worker going to Oxford'. Carrying nothing but a brilliant copy of David's imposing 'Napoleon' painting in his portfolio, Alexander won a place at the prestigious school as an art student without meeting any of the usual educational requirements.

A Unique Journey: From Wanderer to Artist

Alexander's story reads like a novel from a bygone era, echoing characters from literary works such as Voltaire's "Candide (ou L'Optimisme)" or the mysterious figure of 'Kaspar Hauser'. This rich tapestry of experiences forms the backdrop for a deeper understanding of his distinctive presence in the contemporary art scene. In his 2005 essay, "An Introduction to Mark Alexander, the Painter," Ethan Wagner noted that the artist's work "stands apart," and that in front of his paintings, one is alone, "and that's just the way he wants it."

Emergence in the London Art World

In 1998, Mark Alexander made his debut in the London art world. Known as a 'reclusive perfectionist', he released no more than 22 works in the first decade of his career. Despite the limited number, each of Alexander's rare painting projects quickly achieved memorable status among collectors and critics alike.

International Recognition: The Iconic Jasmin

Alexander's first significant international recognition came with the iconic painting Jasmin (1997-8). Exhibited in the cross-generations show "Painting on the Move," curated by Peter Pakesch at the Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland in 2002, the painting sat in the exhibition like an intimate monolith. It depicted a young woman's face, her eyes devotionally looking upwards at a higher realm, reminiscent of a Renaissance angel. A dramatic play of shadows added a touch of contemporary orientalism and goth, while the immediate realism of the features proved rather unsettling. The painting's unique blend of styles and influences marked a key moment in Alexander's ongoing artistic exploration and established his reputation as an artist of profound depth and vision.

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