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Killer Hotdogs and Capturing Butterflies of Time

May 26th, 2010 · No Comments

Mark Kochen is an artist and and painting instructor from Sioux City, Iowa whose work is vivid, honest and stripped of pretense. I talked to Mark about his series, Sum Parts, which is a surrealist visual diary from several months of the artist’s life. Kochen’s work flows from his strong imagination and profound candor. From his images of a hot dog tsunami to an “inner-state” highway flowing in and out of the body to the perspective from the artist’s canvas, we get a glimpse into Kochen’s personal mindscape and identify with his humanness.

What kinds of work do you do? How much do you draw/paint?

I mainly do painting. Occasionally I do little pen and ink drawings, or create odd photographs, but mostly it’s painting. I paint nearly every day. I’ve been traveling a lot, so my art schedule is a bit wonky at the moment, but still, I work on something painting related every day.

What got you into art in the first place?

I can’t tell you what event or sequence of events got me into art. It has just always been there. I’ve been drawing and painting as long as I can remember. As a child I always had a notebook with me.. and I was always doing something.

What inspires you and your work?

Life inspires my work. We all have the choice to do something or nothing. Creation is my something. It makes me feel human.

This series feels like a bit of a departure from your other work- more complex and elaborate. How does it fit into your body of work?

I would have to disagree with this question. The Sum Parts series was more of a jumping off point, and I don’t personally find it to be more complex or elaborate. Maybe the “View from the canvas” piece, but generally I feel my more recent work is the complex, elaborate stuff. The series fits into my pile of work somewhere in the middle. I fell in love with non-objective stuff early on, and my OCD tendencies played into that well. I created a ton of pieces and felt like I found my “voice”, but eventually that gave way to me wanting more content.. as far as stuff to think about goes. Well, that and my desire to remove any barriers that may have existed between myself and the viewer. The Sum Parts stuff was really the recorded transformation form being a presenter of balanced space, to being more of a story teller. That series eventually gave way to the serial pieces, which I see as a refinement of story telling. In Sum Parts, I told about me… Now I tell about my world. So.. I’m still story telling, its just that the camera has been pulled further back now. Big pictures stuff, you know?

The Sum Parts series feels pretty raw and existential, focusing on the inherent flaws or limitations of people. Is that how you see it too?

Not so much focusing on the flaws and limitations… more so the reality. I have nothing to hide. I have my ups and downs.. Sum Parts is me in my most vulnerable form I guess. Naked, confused, tormented by incessant thinking… Raw, existential.. those work. But remember, none of it is there to show any sort of negative. The pieces exist as a record of 3 – 4 months of my life. Nothing more, nothing less. Just trying to be an honest and upfront guy in a world plagued by bullshit and deception. There is one piece… not part of the series.. called “baring the imperfections”… that one is about flaws. I’ll admit to that one.