Mark Sharp creates paintings and works on paper that are inspired by the natural landscape. In Sharp’s work, the observed world is transformed into a dynamic encounter with evolving forms and shifting space. Sharp’s energetic, abstract canvases are often complex experiences with gestural brush strokes, layered glazes and rich colors.
Sharp was born in 1967 in Holland, Michigan. As a child he attended private drawing classes, and while in high school he participated in art classes at Hope College, where his father was a professor. The artist attended Hope College, transferring to the University of Michigan, where he received his BFA in 1990. Sharp’s first interest was in representational art, drawing the figure, and painting from life. While in college he became intrigued with the possibilities of abstract painting, and developed an appreciation for the work of Hoffman, Hartley, and de Kooning. Since abstraction was discouraged in the program at the University of Michigan, Sharp put his energies into ceramics, which remains for him an ongoing interest.
Sharp had a strong, early interest in music, and studied the piano while in college. Music is still an important presence in his life, and plays while Sharp works in his studio. Music informs the lyrical quality of the artist’s work, his improvisational approach, and his interest in developing themes across an extended series of paintings. Sharp’s paintings also reflects two of his other great interests: nature and Chinese art. Since his youth, he has encountered the natural world through extensive hiking and camping. Sharp’s home is filled with Chinese furniture and landscape paintings, whose structure and indeterminate space is reflected in his own work.
Sharp moved to Washington DC in 1990 with his wife, where they both worked as graphic designers. In the early 1990′s they moved to Oak Park IL, near Chicago. In 2007, they returned to the Washington area, and now live in Silver Spring MD. Sharp’s current body of work began in the late 1990′s, with paintings influenced by the landscape. Over time, the work became more active and more layered, and varied in its palette. Recently, in Sharp’s paintings the formerly delicate linear armature has become a network of strong, dark divisions, the forms are now bolder, and the color more vibrant and luminous.
Sharp’s one and two-person exhibitions include those at Walter Wickiser Gallery and Ezair Gallery, both in New York, and at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Concordia University, River Forest IL and the Harrison Street Gallery in Oak Park, IL. His work in public collections, including a commissioned painting in the collection of Concordia University.