First published: Spring 2019
Mark Beyer, with his roots in the comic genre, discusses the processes and methods of his dark and humorous works
Born in 1950 in Pennsylvania, the reclusive Mark Beyer started drawing as a boy; a troubled relationship with his father and bouts of violent behaviour meant that he ended up in an institution that was part reform school, part mental hospital. There, bored and unhappy, he found distraction and solace in art and began to develop his own unique style. He did not aspire to be a visual artist – he was more interested in film-making and writing – but his drawings had a comic feel that caught the attention of Art Spiegelman and Bill Griffith, creators of Arcade: The Comics Revue (1975–76). Beyer went on to have his darkly funny strip Amy and Jordan included in almost every issue of Raw, the alternative comic magazine edited by Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly. This lead to inclusion in other comic publications and also kickstarted a broader artistic career for Beyer. Completely self-taught, he produced many paintings on plexiglass, as featured in Raw Vision #78.
Here are Beyer’s latest works, accompanied by his own descriptions and explanations.
Untitled, 2017, watered down acrylic paint and India ink on typewriter paper glued to board, 15 x 10 in. / 38 x 25 cm
I got really bored after years of trying my best to make art that was neat and precise. I decided to go in the opposite direction and started making artwork that is extremely crude and messy. One of the big changes I’ve made with my recent artwork is to work on paper, rather than doing back-painted plexiglass pieces. This approach allows me to paint over areas that I don’t think are working. With plexiglass, if I make a mistake or decide to change something, I generally have to throw the piece away and start from scratch. With my new approach, I can simply paint over an area and keep going until I get it to work. This piece went through a lot of changes. I would just paint over areas and keep working until I was satisfied with how it looked.