Meet the Others: Mark Rebennack
The Game Changers. The Rule Breakers. The Innovators. Discover some of the fantastic emerging talent showcasing their work at The Other Art Fair.
Mark Rebennack is an artist based in Long Beach, CA who is inspired by every day things be it a news headline, jokes, or colors and languages. Through his experience studying art, and now teaching it, he believes that one must first know the rules before one is able to break them.
His series of “Exhale” drawings focus on the relationship between the artist and the process. Each freehand line is conducted for the length of one exhale and mimics the previous line. Beginning with the straightest freehand line possible, the “waves” begin to take shape as minor imperfections or bumps in one line are exaggerated through the following lines. One at a time — no jumping ahead and no going back –always moving forward.
Q&A with the Artist
Tell us about who you are and what you do. What is your background?
I grew up and went to college in the Midwest. I graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Art with my BFA in Drawing and Painting. After that I moved to Southern California to work in the film industry. I did that for a few years and then ended up in education. For the last 16 years I’ve been teaching the art class at a school for students with significant developmental disabilities. This has given me the unique opportunity to see the importance and significance that the arts have on people of all demographics.
What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
Over the years it seems that one of the major themes that has emerged in my work is the act of repetitive mark-making. What started years ago as drawing thousands of line drawings of the same images in my work has evolved into relying more heavily on the act of drawing the line itself. In my current ‘Exhale’ series, I’ve found a way to strip down the idea of imagery and allow the lines themselves to dictate the composition.
How did you first get interested in your medium and what draws you to it specifically?
I’m a very tactile person. I relate and react both positively and negatively to textures, surfaces and the interaction between materials. I’m super picky about the pens that I use. I have to touch all the paper in the art supply store. I sort of let these textures and my reactions to them dictate my medium and materials. With the pieces that incorporate more layers, I’ve found the acrylics, inks and recently, the spray paints that allow me to draw my lines on top of a painted background. Also, the accessibility of pen and paper is fairly universal, so I’m always able to find opportunities to draw.
How has your style and practice changed over the years?
I’ve always seen my work as being classified as abstract. Where I once would have considered it more closely aligned with Abstract Expressionism, I’ve seen a shift toward more Conceptualism and definitely Minimalism. I think the time I’ve devoted to my practice and placing value on honesty in my work, I’ve been able to strip away the distractions that are often found in abstract art in order to create and present work that is simple, yet emotionally and visually engaging.
Can you walk us through your process? How long do you spend on one work? How do you know when it’s finished?
My Exhale series focuses on the breath. Each line is one exhale drawn freehand and starts at the bottom of the piece. Each new line mimics the previous. If there’s an imperfection in one line, that gets carried on in the next and this continues to create the “waves”. The amount of time put into each piece varies. Some smaller ones might take a couple of hours whereas the larger ones can take several sessions over a few weeks. I don’t go into my work with a preset idea of how any piece will look. They all happen pretty organically and I rely on the piece to tell me when it’s finished.
What series or project are you working on next?
I’m still exploring this idea of what I call minimalist action drawing or painting. I do work on a couple of other outlier pieces that look different than my Exhales, but are still closely tied to the process and meditative ideas. I’m also working on starting a nonprofit art studio for adults with developmental disabilities. It’s been a dream for many years to do this and it’s finally in motion.
167 Exhales in White on Medium Blue Splash | 25″ x 25″ | Acrylic, Ink on Paper | $700
What is the best advice given to you as an artist?
I feel like the best advice I’ve gotten hasn’t come from others, but has come from the work itself. I had a revelation during my Exhale series while working on a commission piece, where the honesty and integrity in my work was tested. I wrestled with this idea for a little while and I feel like the decisions that I made have set the course for my work moving forward. Taking the time to invest in your practice and then creating work that is honest to who you are would be my two biggest realizations.
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