Born in Chicago, Mark acknowledges the artistic gift his grandfather passed along to him. His grandfather, a Russian immigrant, was a tailor, poet, and artist who painted beautiful ornate images using everyday stencils, such as tomato cartons. Inspired by his grandfather’s work, Mark focused on challenging his images through tension of abstract color fields and spontaneous expression seeking to maintain a connection with realistic references infused with an emotional process.
Self-taught, Mark’s show history is as diverse as the numerous cities to which he has lived. His work, which spans two decades, is largely abstract oil on canvas. As Mark spent 20 years driving a career in film and television production and raising his now 26- year-old daughter, an art career developed.
Mark Lesser is now a Denver-based artist, who says he might be a risk-taker first, artist second. "Making art is not a relaxing endeavor, but the outcome is exhilarating."
Friends and family would say that I he has always been a risk-taker, but with an early inspiration from Picasso, Hockney, Rothko, and Frankenthaler, he learned to work in a more visceral fashion with the capacity take risks. Many times, he had thought that a specific painting had failed. Once, he even threw a painting in the trash. "In the morning, I climbed into the trash bin, pulled it out, and finished it".
People always say, “oh that’s must be so relaxing…”. Making art is exciting, dramatic, complex, and messy. Willem de Kooning once said, “Art never seems to make me peaceful or pure. I always seem to be wrapped up in the melodrama of vulgarity."
March 2017, He attended a month-long artist residency in Morocco. Mark worked with artists from all over the world (Australia, Canada, Iceland, Holland, Pakistan, Bahrain). Tetouan, a small town just south of Tangier is not in a tourist town like Marrakech. Tetouan is a raw, yet honest town of 500,000 people. He walked through the tightly-wound medina with no sense of north. There is an old poem about Tetouan that still holds true today. Loosely translated from Arabic, it describes the air as poison, the water bloody (in the streets, not from the faucet), and its health could make you sick. The sights, sounds, and smells are in itself a culture shock. Traveling and painting in a town such as this, carries a risk of culture shock and uncertainty. "I felt nothing but uncertainty for two weeks."
In all of this, He did start to see the beauty in Tetouan's aged walls. Mark saw hundreds of years of painted walls chipping away to reveal other colors, markings on the walls, and time revealed. Suddenly, he could not stop capturing abstractions.