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Interpretations are all fair in ‘Love and War’

Collection of paintings includes references to iconic American and European art, history, violence and issues common to the human condition.

Mark Bryce, “The Flame.” (Courtesy photo)

For artist Mark Bryce, the artistic process starts with a question, an observation or a challenge.

His collection of paintings is a collage of imagery that includes references to iconic American and European art, history, violence and issues common to the human condition.

Bryce — who lives in the South Park neighborhood with his wife, daughter and Goldendoodle — has been chosen to exhibit a collection of 23 paintings titled “Love and War” at the Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT), an institution with a mission to build a bilingual and transnational cultural community.

While artists of all backgrounds and cultures have shown their work in collective shows at CECUT, it is rare for an American artist who is not of Mexican ancestry to have a solo exhibition. “Love and War” marks the first time you have exhibited outside of the United States. What are your hopes?

What I am really interested in with my work is human nature and universal perceptions of our cultural values, priorities and conditions. Through the medium of paint, I explore ideologies that address basic issues fundamental to life in America but also fundamental to the manner in which America relates to itself and the global community.

The exhibition title “Love and War” describes the subject matter in some of the paintings, but as we were discussing titles for the show, it seemed extremely timely given our chaotic world. I hope that the exhibition will bring understanding and compassion forward and become a point of departure for viewers to reflect upon America, its history and challenges.

The show is not intended to be a conclusion; it’s about expanding the dialogue and creating new possibilities.

Your work explores themes of love, violence, indifference, sublimation, the body, beauty, freedom, oppression and censorship. Which of those themes most inspired your creativity?

While I have been making paintings for about four decades, the work has primarily investigated the vast dichotomous shift of contemporary society and values as compared to even those of my youth. Rather than a specific theme, I think I’m most inspired by the act of painting itself. More often than not, painting is a personal salvation which permits me to create order out of chaos.

Mark Bryce, “Memories of America.” (Courtesy photo)

Why did you choose paint and Baltic Birch wood panels as the medium for your ideas?

I use subtle contrasts between opaque passages and transparent glazes on wood panels as is traditionally seen in classical Northern European painting. The paintings embody my technical training established initially though my father and then as a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, which I have refined in a personal manner. I utilize this formal means in a narrative, conceptual stance referencing art history as well as psychosocial and political ideologies.

Your paintings incorporate iconic images such as “The Kiss” sculpture by Rodin, the cherubim detail from Raphael’s “Sistine Madonna” and “The Scream,” by Edvard Munch. How did the image of “The Kiss,” for example, develop your ideas for the oil painting “WAR”?

I’m primarily very interested in the ideologies that inspired those works of art to be created in the first place. I’m often combining many contexts and references into one work. When I am using appropriated imagery like Rodin’s “The Kiss” mixed with images of found objects like the wood blocks, I am not making merely a collage that shows where the images came from, but, in fact, I want to create an entirely new image which is the consequence of time, history and self. The painting process brings all of these elements together.”


Mark Bryce: “Love and War”

When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays. Oct. 12 through February 2018

Where: Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT), Theater Lobby Gallery, Cecut, Paseo de los Héroes, No. 9350. Zona Río, Tijuana.

Tickets: Free (some additional exhibitions have fees)

Online: cecut.gob.mx

Manna is a freelance writer.

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