Mark Evans is an incredibly talented London-based artist who has embraced leather as a new sculpting medium, etching with blades to create a truly stunning effect.
Evans started his artistic career in early childhood. Born in the Welsh countryside, he was given his first knife by his granddad when he was seven, and used it to carve images into the bark of trees around the farm.
After studying fine art in London, and dedicating his time to more conventional materials such as charcoals, oils, and acrylics, he came back to carving in a happy mistake.
“It was pre-millennium and there was a digital revolution in the air, the YBA had exploded onto the British art scene. I was told by my professor that ‘painting is dead’ – all this was going on around me, but I couldn’t shake my childhood primal desire to play with knives.”
“I was trying to clean a blood stain off a new leather jacket… I scratched through the blood into the surface of the jacket, right into the suede or the ‘nap’. that tiny etched patch of contrast in the leather suddenly became my own Archimedes ‘eureka’ moment, as if an explosion went off in my mind. I saw a world of possibilities.” – Mark Evans
Evans rescued the jacket by continuing to etch a portrait of Jimi Hendrix onto the back. Several people, including a buyer from Harrods, stopped him in the street to ask where he had bought it, inspiring the new graduate to follow this path of experimentation. Years later, footballers and other celebrities began commissioning work, while renowned artists such as Tracy Emin praise his work.
Mark Evans art is a labour of love
Evans specialises in ‘micro-sculpting’ leather, using blades of varying thickness to carve photorealistic scenes, symbols, and figures. Having developed his technique following a number of experiments in his career, Evans is the only artist in the world today working with leather in this way.
However, he cites influences from various historical eras, including Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Francis Bacon, Damien Hirst, George Bellows, Peter Howsen and Bart Gavigan.
Working with surgical precision, Evans can spend weeks to months completing a piece, depending on its size and the level of detail involved.
“It’s micro sculpture within a tenth of a millimetre, and I’m an obsessive perfectionist about it… I have spent hundreds of thousands of hours slicing, etching, making tiny meticulous marks with scalpels.”
“It’s painful and dangerous, and it’s nothing like painting where the artist can just paint over any mistakes. I have nowhere to hide mistakes, zero margin for error.” – Mark Evans
Leather brings authenticity to his art
Evans favours the material for its juxtapositions: it is both functional and aesthetic, ancient and modern, sensual and masculine. By using leather as his medium, Evans brings its raw and primitive qualities into his art.
While he has captured some of the world’s most famous faces, including Naomi Campbell, Sir Winston Churchill and Muhammad Ali, much of Evans’ work features wildlife at its centre, depicting natural subjects on a natural material.
Recent projects include a 50-square-metre installation in the St. Regis Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, which shows polo players in the midst of a game. Like David Yarrow, Mark Evans is an artist who takes risks to capture the perfect image, lying on a polo field with his camera while horses charged over him to capture the perfect shot.
Sourcing the leather from all over the globe, he acquires the cleanest hides from Scandinavia where cattle enjoy lush pastures and an absence of barbed wire fences. For darker pieces however, he sources from South America, where cows can be hurt by predators or cut on razor wire. These wounds all contribute to the final artwork.
“Leather is ancient, but still remains ‘cool’. Leather has heritage, yet it is still rock ‘n’ roll. Leather just gets better with age. Leather is masculine… from gladiators to Wild West gunslingers, but also leather is feminine and sensual…”
“Leather was once a living, breathing creature and in a plastic, synthetic, digital world, leather is authentic. It’s a world away from digital media; it’s real. It’s skin.” – Mark Evans
Those who buy Mark Evans art are in good company
The likes of Simon Cowell, Rio Ferdinand and Craig David have all chosen to invest in Mark Evans, and his art features in luxury homes, hotels and galleries all around the world. His work has been exhibited in London, New York, Dubai, Monaco and Switzerland, and auctioned at high-profile fundraisers such as Fashion for Relief and APJ’s Relief for Haiti during the Cannes Film Festival.
Pieces range from around £10,000 for small works up to £250,000 for bigger artworks. If you are looking to buy Mark Evans art, please get in touch or pay a visit to one of our galleries to learn more about his work.