New York Art Dealer, SARAH HASTED Interviews Brooklyn Artist, MARK MANN


Interviews Artist MARK MANN

O Uncolored People

Owen James Gallery 

May 17 - June 30, 2018

oup_geraldine.jpg Sarah Hasted

O Uncolored People, Geraldine, 2015. Acrylic on canvas, 7 x 7”

MARK MANN is the most descent person I have ever known. 

We met at college in Santa Fe, New Mexico so many years ago, and he has been quietly and consistently working his way through this thing called “the art world” ever since. Some artists don’t demand the spot light, they diligently work in their studios, making exceptional works of art, often overshadowed by all the hype and noise. 

Mark has never been the squeaky wheel, nor has he been invisible. 

With dozens of exhibitions under his belt, including one at the Corcoran Museum in Washington D.C., and notable New York galleries, like Laurence Miller Gallery, his work has been recognized and collected by the Los AngelesCounty Museum of Art, the Sir Elton John Collection, Yale University, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the Progressive Collection to name a few.

mann_souvenir6.jpg SARAH HASTED AND MARK MANN

Our shared histories include a lifetime of understanding, being raised in the Southwest, our love of art, our complicated upbringings in broken families. Mark and I spent a lot of our lives together, and we always understood the various definitions of the word “family” – and all that entails.

I don’t know about you, but growing up in families with modest to low incomes, meant your family vacations consisted of everyone being loaded up into the station wagon, windows rolled up, car sick while your mother chain smoked, shouting instructions like “don’t’ make me stop this car” - as we head out on that long drive to Little Rock, Arkansas or Tulsa, Oklahoma. You stayed in a cheap motel (not hotel), but it didn’t matter as long as it had a pool. The highlight of the trip was usually something simple, like having your mother teach you how to swim, all the while, trying not to get her perfectly set and curled hair wet, or your step father pretending his feet were sharks, humming the theme to Jaws and saying they were coming to get you…as you squeal with glee.

Most of Mark’s art work over the years has referenced his role in the complex family structure, navigating relationships with siblings, relatives, aunts, uncles and parents. 

“O Uncolored People is an ongoing series of paintings depicting burnt sunbathers as a means to express a side of the American character, weary from excess and leisure and instilled with a dark sense of humor. As a group, these people of Anglo descent are over-exposed and vulnerable to a changing world where American superiority is challenged. Each painting’s title is based on popular boys and girl’s names from 1930’s Social Security records, meant to reference an older generation – tough, stoic, but now questioning their status. My goal is to bring qualities of both the strange and sentimental in these pictures – in much the same way the most miserable of vacations can, over time, become the fondest of memories.” 



Think about all of your family vacations, the painful sunburns and the sweet moments that you often remember…those trips down memory lane, aren’t about the sting of the sunburn and usually have nothing to do with some grand experience or fancy place, but rather a simple, thoughtful and loving gesture or time spent with someone you love.

SH: What is your favorite memory of a family vacation?

MM: Most of our family vacations were road trips throughout Oklahoma and Texas. Favorite may not be the best word to use, lets say memorable. One time in particular we had arrived to the beach motel and my sisters rushed to get all the sunbathing time the could on our first day. Their resulting sunburns and mild heat sickness made for a comically tragic dinner which they wanted to cancel altogether. Our dad was determined to go out and have a good time no matter what. I’m sure I got my hamburger, so all is in order from my point of view.

SH: Everyone in your paintings seems to have a sunburn, why?

MM: It’s a symbolic reference to cultural excess and privilege. I ultimately think it refers to a time before concerns like using sunscreen or limiting exposure to UV light. A type of self-inflicted wound; this preoccupation with the feeling better in the short term while simultaneously disregarding safety in the long run.

SH: What is the importance of the pool in your work, we see it referenced so often?

MM: Pools are inherently a part of the postcard and vacation scenes I use for subject matter, but I also have an affinity for them as spaces for family interaction. There are boundaries to a pool (shallow end and deep end) that relate to stages of life and personal growth.

SH: I love the titles of the new paintings; can you tell me about them?

MM: The titles are inspired by popular boys and girl’s names from Social Security records, meant to reference an older generation that precedes baby boomers. It seems to me to be the most evident point of cultural and political divide in America.

SH: Way back in 1993, one of the first works I ever saw of yours, were plaster cast water guns with Chinese fortunes on the back. The new casts are various cactus plants in coffee cans and other vessels. Do they relate?

MM: That series from 1993, just after graduation from art school was some of the earliest sculptures I did with mold making and cast plaster. The resulting objects were basically a mash-up of Eastern and Western philosophies or elements of violence and non-violence rolled into one. There was an absurdity that appealed to me. Regarding the cacti, they embody that same contrast of forms and material I am drawn to. Strength vs fragility, scarcity vs abundance.

Cuban_Bustelo.jpg SARAH HASTED

Cuban Cactus, Bustelo 2016. 

SH: How do you think growing up in the Southwest has influenced your work?

MM: Despite the conservative side to my upbringing, I had a great amount of personal freedom as a kid growing up in the 70’s and early 80’s. Out all day with less supervision and the free time to explore was invaluable. 

SH: What do you think the biggest challenge an artist faces now?

MM: From a local perspective, affording to live and work in New York City while maintaining a serious studio practice is the biggest challenge. In the bigger picture, staying present and focused amid the distractions that come with technology, communications and social media.

SH: How has your work evolved from your earlier series, “Are we there yet” and “Wish you were here”?

MM: Both series involved a great deal of nostalgia and looking to the past. Now that I’ve worked through those ideas, I can direct the work on current themes, whether personal or political. 

For more information please visit the gallery and artist websites:


New York Art Dealer, SARAH HASTED Interviews German Artist MANUEL KNAPP

IMG-2676.jpg Interview with Sarah Hasted
collor+collector+side.jpg interview Sarah Hasted

WHEN I FIRST EXPERIENCED the work of young, German artist, MANUEL KNAPP, it was last summer in July. I was on a whirlwind art tour of Swabia,Germany, a passenger in a 911 Porsche, visiting private museums, meeting art collectors, and enjoying the most spectacular meal I have ever eaten in my life. Situated in the heart of the small village of Grossglattbach, in the attic above a small restaurant called the Lamm, owned by a husband and wife team, is their son, Manuel Knapp's unique atelier. After eating, not one but two dinners (no joke), I climbed up the steep steps in my high heels and full belly, to the studio. On the top floor of this traditional German, half timber house, is a thoughtful showcase of sophisticated, complicated and truly obsessive, 3 dimensional works made entirely of string.


Knapp's art works have been acquired by private and public art collectors, and the permanent collections of some of the most prestigious private museums in the world, Kunstwerk: Sammlung Klein and theMuseum Ritter:Sammlung Marli Hoppe Ritter, and the Collection Pforzheim, additionally, he has been commissioned to do site specific works, and his art career is just beginning.


Perhaps I am attracted to Manuel's intricate and meticulously hand woven works because they remind me of the American Indian textiles that I grew up with in New Mexico, or simply because they are a perfect combination of what happens when organic materials meet an obsessive mind. Whatever the reason for the attraction, the works are undeniably magnetic.


twin peak.jpg Sarah Hasted

I encourage a studio visit with Manuel, go with an empty stomach, savor every delicious bite, then go upstairs and feast your eyes on Manuel's remarkable art works, the whole experience will not only leave you wanting more, but will be one of the most authentic and genuine experiences you will ever can thank me later.

SH: When did your work first get attention?

MK: In the summer exhibition of my last year of studies in 2013, a gallery from Stuttgart named Von Braunbehrens asked me to collaborate. In January 2014, Mr. Peter Klein invited me to join in a group exhibition at his private museum, Kunstwerk: Sammlung Klein in Nussdorf, Germany. In 2015, ART-magazine introduced my work in their newcomer folder. This article inspired a German television station to do studio visit. In 2016, the Ritter Collection acquired one of my works and I participated in an exhibition at the Museum Ritter: Sammlung Marli Hoppe Ritter.


SH: Would you call yourself a sculptor? 

MK: No. I feel more like cook that improvises after losing the recipe or a scientist that has lost his topic.


SH: How did you discover and develop your style and medium of working with string?

MK: I stumbled across the string as a material coincidentally. When I spent a semester abroad in Tallinn (Estonia) 2012. I was struggling with a project to build a minimalistic object out of matches. I used the string as a helping line to create a cube in the room. My aim was to follow these lines with a burning match and freeze this movement in a long exposure picture. In the end, the string cube became the most interesting point of the project. From that day I started to do research about the strong presence of strings in space.


SH: Some of your work is very much about architecture and geometry, order and others are about fantasy and fiction, illusion and messiness, can you talk about this?

MK: As a sportsman I love to check out my mental and physical limits. That brings the messiness. I only work with tight strings in straight lines - that naturally causes geometry. The illusion is the picture language where I started. I created everyday objects like chairs, tables and stairs. Our brain automatically characterizes them as functional and useable. These practical expectations create the strong dissonance of what we see and the feeling that we get. I work on the edge of what is capable by the human eye the appearance seems like an illusion. But the use of simple material underlines the irritation and makes the spectator questioning what he believes is fact. This basic question is my playground.

portrait pic by Franz Wamhof.jpg

SH: Have you ever done a commissioned work? 

MK: I created one art-piece for Mr. Peter Klein placed in a coffee shop nearby his art museum. The challenge was to cope with the strong deflection of this public space. Instead of using a black/white solution, I generated a multi-colored texture that is always changing with the light and perspective. In this case the only limitation was the dimension of the piece.

SH: Tell me about your family and upbringing?

MK: I grew up in a small village of 25.000 citizens in the south of Germany. It is located in an agricultural countryside. My parents own a small restaurant nearby since I was born. We lived with no luxury but it never felt like something was missing. Still today I think that the important things in life happen apart from money. Hard work will bring you success but never forget about good food and good friends.

SH: Describe your studio and what you do when you aren’t working on your artwork?

MK: My atelier is located above my flat under the roof of a half-timbered house. It is a historical technique of eastern architecture. I restored the space with friends by recycling given material. So the unique personality of the place remained. The spirit of improvisation and imperfection of the atelier also influences my work. For living, I am working as a gardener and waiter in my parent`s restaurant. In my spare time I love to travel, doing long walks in the nearby forests and countryside or meet with friends for barbecue. This is home to me so I stayed there throughout my studies instead of moving to the bigger city.

SH: Why are you so disciplined?

MK: I guess the answer is love. I love what I am doing so for me the efforts I have to take, like 1000`s of knots and nails, do not feel like boring or torturous work. It is more an enjoyable meditative challenge that keeps me patient and focused. If you really love to do something it does not matter how much effort you have to invest as long as you are convinced with the result.

SH: Have you ever thought about doing site specific work? 

MK: I have worked on several site specific installations. For me a site specific project starts with the given space and the architecture around. I search for locking points to combine the constructive possibilities with the ideas I have in mind. Then I will think of the spectator and his perspective on the installation. These factors decide about the form of the construction. In 2016, I realized an Installation for the Ritter Museum in Waldenbuch, Germany. In this special case the meaning of “site specific” was not only referring to the place itself, but also to the desire of the collector which is focusing on color and squares. In this sense I created “the big orange” that felt like a perfect match because it was a huge scale analysis and questioning of these topics.

SH: How long does it take you to make the average work?

MK: It depends on the complexity of the structure. When I have the composition in mind it takes between one week and one month. As I only follow a mind map I am never sure if the idea can be realized. That is the magic moment of the last knot.

SH: Who is your favorite artist? 

MK: It is a Canadian musician named Chilly Gonzales. In all of his compositions from rap to pop to classical piano pieces you can always feel his humor and personality. I guess this is the gift of a genius.

SH: Are you on social media?

MK: To keep in touch with my friends from abroad I visit FB once in two weeks. The fact that I have no smartphone stays a funny scandal in my circle of friends. I enjoy the freedom of not being online and reachable constantly.

For inquiries or to view more works please visit: