Tyranny of Beauty: New Paintings by Mark Beck at San Luis Obispo Museum of Art
Before he moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, artist Mark Beck spent decades painting the old buildings, golden hills, and deep blue Pacific Ocean of San Luis Obispo County. With a new body of work addressing a host of disquieting issues at the heart of present-day America, Mark Beck returns to San Luis Obispo for Tyranny of Beauty, a solo exhibition of paintings at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art from June 28 to August 18, 2013.
These are not the classic coastal and house paintings for which Mark Beck has become known. Instead they are a series of landscapes and portraits, iconic images of America and the ‘American Dream,’ which some have described as strange yet beautiful and that, while troubling, also provide an odd sense of comfort to the viewer.
Tyranny of Beauty was chosen as the exhibition title “because artists as divergent as Gerhard Richter and Edward Hopper have stated that it is easy enough to make a beautiful painting…any competent artist can do that. The hard part is creating original work that has meaning.” In Mark Beck’s eyes, creating significant art requires much more than just beauty: “It is my aim to create ‘beautiful’ paintings which transcend the superficial look of things to reveal meaning through enigma, allegory and issues about which I care.”
Born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Mark Beck studied at the Portland School of Art in Portland, Maine. He spent four years teaching inmates to paint at the California Men’s Colony, the maximum security prison in San Luis Obispo. He now lives with his wife and daughter in the North Valley of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, where his studio is nestled under the tall trees of the valley and warmed by a trusty wood burning stove and the companionship of his aging dogs.