Artists who have participated in exhibitions at Griffin Gallery are featured below.

François Mark

He studied at the Beaux-Arts so he wouldn’t be a Sunday painter. The painter’s enjoyment is offensive, especially when he flaunts it out in the open air. It is a guilty pleasure, an ineffable gift. François Mark has no cause or identity to defend, he hasn’t done time in jail, hasn’t experienced special traumas. His exoticism can be summed up with a little plum brandy from the Lot, a good spot for picking girolles, an old Berlingo and a Paradisio kebab. In other words, he hasn’t got the right profile to shine in private views. “Poor guy!” Picasso used to say, speaking of a painter at work. He digs up his material online, not like a coal miner watching out for firedamp, but like a casual stroller, picking mushrooms in the woods. He’s good at sniffing out the moist patches of the internet. His picture collection wouldn’t make it past border control. Old bearded nudists, sex tapes of disabled people, men-in-boots erotica, stars with botched plastic surgery, photographs by Leni Riefenstahl, portraits of African dictators, reality TV trash, Frank Ribery’s decisive moments, etc. Who’d want such a bestiary? Most internet users would just shoot an ironic, jaded or slightly disgusted glance at those images. François paints them. To spend long hours on images gleaned from strangers, to collect the ugliest scenes of private life, the moments of absolute solitude, the unspeakable vices, you need to feel a great, humorous tenderness for humankind. Irony isn’t enough. François Mark often lingers on the failed attempts, bad taste and pathetic narcissism of blogs: dolphin desktop backgrounds, wallpaper with deer patterns, family pictures, groups of colleagues, selfies, glamor shots, gifs, friendly meals, miraculous catches, Christmas gardens, barbecues, riding schools, French hunters… I don’t mean to pass him off as the Mother Teresa of the internet, welcoming into the fold of painting the untouchables of the history of images. But in the age of tweets, online buzzes and instant reactions, taking the time to reproduce these amnesiac images could almost be seen as an act of resistance. Or rather, of reminiscence. Memories of regular visits to museums, of escaping into the burdensome past of painters. The moment when they could be set on a pedestal and considered inaccessible is past, but why not celebrate and acknowledge Bokassa in full coronation regalia, a footballer’s shot, maternity in an inflatable pool, the Holy Trinity at a barbecue. Inveterate classifiers would slap a Neo-Pop label on François Mark. But if these labels are de rigueur among historians and critics, who keep getting their wires crossed when they try to unravel artists’ individual throes, I think it would be more amusing to call François Mark’s painting “Pop-terroir”. By terroir, I mean the countryside as hinterland, bulwark, a place to escape the bustle, where you can decant the ideas you had in the city while you’re braising a piece of well-marbled meat. A leading man, a Julien Sorel of painting, François Mark is searching for a promised land in the guise of a Sunday barbecue or the gardens of Venice Beach. Ultrabrite smiles and peroxided manes disguise an insatiable craving for an endless summer, from the Mediterranean to Los Angeles: Sunday, out in the open-air. The sun shines on the Fauvists of Collioure as well as on the nudists of the Cap d’Agde, those people the snobs call “la France d’en bas” – “downstairs France” – to reassure themselves, but most of all, to avoid looking at them. François, who spends the FIAC in the kitchen, enjoys good food and wine. When he’s not painting, he’s eating – a bit like Obelix,
he must have fallen into it when he was little. Which reminds me of the painter Pontormo’s diary: “Saturday evening I had a meal with Piero of fish from the Arno, ricotta, eggs and artichokes, I ate too much, and far too much ricotta, the next day I ate with Bronzino and in the evening I didn’t have supper, because I had eaten too much. On Monday evening, I ate Thursday’s cooked meat and it wasn’t good for me, 10 ounces of bread. Tuesday I started on the torso. Thursday I did an arm. Friday, the other arm. Saturday, the thigh of the figure. On Sunday I lunched and supped with Bronzino and in the morning I planted a few peach trees.”

Léonard Martin

François Mark exhibited at Griffin Gallery in Selective Memories, as a student of L’ École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris.

(Last updated 11.03.2015)