Mark Alsterlind was born in Oakland, California (USA) and grew up near San Francisco. After a Masters degree in history, he left for Paris aged 20 (on a one-way ticket bought by a friend...). With no more than a few dollars in his pocket, his Paris trip nevertheless morphed into an improvised world tour. He returned to San Francisco two years later, transformed. He joined the School of Fine Arts in Santa Clara, California. At first, he planned on becoming an illustrator. During his years of training, however, he realized that he simply wanted to paint.
After his studies, he returned to France: a tiny attic in Dordogne became his first workshop. He didn’t speak a word of French... but was entrusted with the task of copying the prehistoric motifs of the Lascaux Caves and then reproducing them on the walls of Lascaux II, which is the replica intended for the general public. This daily solitary encounter with parietal art, the first example of human figurative art, was a shock. Paradoxically, this led the young American painter down the non-figurative path.
Mark Alsterlind moved to Arles, where he settled for thirteen years in a workshop in the Nîmes region, before transforming a former textile factory in Beaucaire in the South of France into a workshop and a loft. He now shares his time between a Parisian studio near Montmartre and a studio in Manosque, in the Alpes de Hautes Provence, where he has been living for the last few years.
Mark Alsterlind has collaborated on a wide range of projects over the past 30 years, including chocolate painting, fabric design, architecture, fine wine, the world of arenas, theater and, more recently, cinema and – through his encounter with Francis Hallé – the essential question of ecological transition.
Mark Alsterlind maintains a unique relationship with nature in general and with trees in particular. He often paints outside, leaving his work exposed to the most violent and inclement weather. His canvases, spread out in the shade of the attentive trees, show the traces of their secular cycles. For some years now, he has also explored the dimension of volume, sometimes resorting to the most unexpected materials, such as stacks of books soaked in binder and converted into extraordinary voluminous paintings. The trees themselves are thus recycled at the hands of the artist.
In contrast to the fragility of a wall-hung canvas, he proposes the richness, variety and solidity of volumes designed for outside as much as inside. It is that old dream of making one’s own contribution to nature, competing with Spring itself.
Mark Alsterlind’s meeting with the tree sculptor, Vincent Lajarige, and the great botanist, Francis Hallé, was both a revelation and a logical extension of his own ongoing conversation with the trees, the wind, the sun and time itself.
And numerous other exhibitions in France and abroad (United States, Switzerland, Germany) since 1987.
"Trees" (Forest Art Project), Art Gardens of Septèmes-les-Vallons, France.
Jas de La Rimade Gallery, Carcès, France.
"Trees" (Forest Art Project), Chapelle de l’Observance, Draguignan, France.
And numerous other group exhibitions in France and abroad (United States, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy) since 1980.
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