The work that comprises The Deserters exhibition is, in many ways, a continuation for me. These are works that visit what have been resonating, lifelong themes in both the visual and musical work I have aspired to create. I possess a growing awareness of the immeasurable impact of words in fertilizing the seed of visual expression. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the lasting impact on my mind’s eye informed by the stories of Hermann Hesse, John Bunyan, and George MacDonald in my youth—their influence is tempered here with the redemptive narrative of the Bible and the journey of the individual.
The human figures portrayed in the work share a commonality with much of mankind, engaging in a search for deeper meaning. They are men and women, often agrarian and nomadic—sojourners. Some are cast out, others cast aside. Many are thirsting. Some are frantically grasping for an elusive rest to an inward longing. Largely plebian, sometimes entangled in the human struggles and conflict that come with living, burdened by the problems endemic in their own nature, they are noble workers, weary workers. Some are driven to wander in a desire for forgetting, some by the hope that lies beyond their current circumstance.
As a self-taught painter, I have learned that I am often pressing hard to find my own symbolic language. I grasp, at times, to place allegories within a work that may provoke deeper examination, yet balk at the idea of doing so for mere novelty or polemical reasons. There is a beauty in mystery. -- Mark Renner, 2011