Simultaneously taking inspiration from the golden age of Hollywood and his upbringing in industrial Newcastle, Mark Grieves’s work combines a keen eye for composition with the fantastical faceless figures which have become his trademark.
His unusual painting technique and attention to detail means that his work takes longer to complete than many other artists, and it is not uncommon for Grieves to spend a number of months putting his pieces together. Consequently, his work has become extremely rare and collectable.
Read on to learn more about Mark Grieves, or explore our collection of works by Mark Grieves, and enquire about purchasing one of his pieces.
Mark Grieves was born in North Shields, near Newcastle, in the early seventies, and had a quiet, happy childhood. Although his father was often away as a result of his job working as a labourer in the shipyards of the north east, Grieves built up a good relationship with him, and counts his parents as a positive influence on him growing up.
However, his time at school was far less idyllic. Grieves has cited his inability to concentrate as a major factor in his negative experiences in education, and early dreams of a career in the arts were dashed after an early altercation with his art teacher. Although he avoided expulsion, the physical brawl with his teacher left him with a minimal catalogue of work, which scuppered his hopes of being accepted into art college.
After this initial rejection, Grieves turned his artistic focus to photography, which allowed him to indulge his love of “shape and shadow, light and contrast”—all elements which he took with him when he eventually returned to painting some years later.
This was also reflected in his recurring use of the piano, which he calls “the perfect platform for me to perform as an artist”, as a visual motif in his work. He begins his work by completely covering a canvas in black oil paint, and lightening the canvas from there. The faceless pairs of figures he includes in these paintings take their cues from the shimmering monochrome of classic cinema, another formative influence on Grieves growing up.
Some two decades after leaving school, Mark Grieves was finally able to devote his life to working as a professional artist. Combining his enigmatic figures who appear in most of his works with an almost realist painting style for his backgrounds, his is truly a unique artistic mind.