Mark Woodfine-Jones

The University of Huddersfield (Contemporary Art and Illustration)

The Human Plague

Plague n.

1 a very serious infectious disease.

2 an infestation of destructive insects or animals.

v. 1 cause continual trouble to.

2 pester continually.

The artworks that I have created for this exhibition are a commentary on the human horde and the plague-like behaviour that it has adopted. With its population expanding uncontrollably, and its excessive, reckless consumption of the world’s finite resources, the human species leaves destruction and ruin in its path as if it were a swarm of locusts working on an industrial scale.

Communicating a concept is not all these paintings were created for; they are just as much about the process of painting. This project offered me the opportunity to experiment fully with the medium of paint for the first time, and so the paintings I produced are as much a testament to the process of painting as anything else.

I was strongly influenced by the works of the Neo Expressionists whilst creating my paintings. In particular the work of Georg Baselitz was inspirational to me. To him the process of creating the painting is more important than the subject, and so Baselitz’s work is full of expressive, experimental techniques and vibrant colours. Like with the paintings that I created for this exhibition, Baselitz’s artwork also often provides commentary on controversial social issues.

(The description that accompanied the artworks at my first exhibition)

Here is the easel and the board that I used throughout the whole of my plague project. Every painting I created, big or small, fast or slow, I created on these two wooden objects, and it really showed. Over one hundred paintings worth of paint was, and probably still is, splattered over these two tired friends, that now stand slumped to one side, tired looking and a complete mess, rather like I was.

Human
(oil paint on card)

Human

(oil paint on card)

Murder
(oil paint on card)

Murder

(oil paint on card)

Human/Flesh
(oil paint on card)
After painting images with a skull as the main subject matter I decided to move onto other things, whilst continuing the theme of course. To do this I thought of a few words that I associated with ‘plague’ and began to create imagery with those words at their roots; for instance, this painting has the words ‘human’ and ‘flesh’ as its inspiration.

Human/Flesh

(oil paint on card)

After painting images with a skull as the main subject matter I decided to move onto other things, whilst continuing the theme of course. To do this I thought of a few words that I associated with ‘plague’ and began to create imagery with those words at their roots; for instance, this painting has the words ‘human’ and ‘flesh’ as its inspiration.

Here are two of the smaller paintings.

I think it is worth mentioning that the orientation of the skulls shown in all of the paintings is unimportant, as they are not merely observational studies. The skull is a symbol of death,and together with the fiery colour palette and  unpredictable marks, creates hellish imagery.

Skull Number 3
After the first three paintings had been created I decided that they were taking too long to paint, so I tackled that issue by making the images much smaller, ranging anywhere from 2cm x 3cm to 12cm x 12cm; though the card I used to paint on was hastily cut out, and so the dimensions varied at every point of the paintings.

Skull Number 3

After the first three paintings had been created I decided that they were taking too long to paint, so I tackled that issue by making the images much smaller, ranging anywhere from 2cm x 3cm to 12cm x 12cm; though the card I used to paint on was hastily cut out, and so the dimensions varied at every point of the paintings.

Skull Number 2

Skull Number 2

Skull Number 1
This painting was the first image I created using the human skull as reference. As with the creation of all the imagery that followed it, I kept in my mind my message (that the human race is acting like a plague), and the inspiration I had received from the New Painters, such as Georg Baselitz. I used a limited colour palette, variety of brushes, and a palette knife to create this artwork; I also tried not to be precious about the painting, and so spent as little time on it as possible, no more than fifteen minutes.

Skull Number 1

This painting was the first image I created using the human skull as reference. As with the creation of all the imagery that followed it, I kept in my mind my message (that the human race is acting like a plague), and the inspiration I had received from the New Painters, such as Georg Baselitz. I used a limited colour palette, variety of brushes, and a palette knife to create this artwork; I also tried not to be precious about the painting, and so spent as little time on it as possible, no more than fifteen minutes.