About 8 years ago, Mark Bettis moved from Florida to the River Arts District in Asheville, where he turned over a new leaf in more ways than one. For starters, he began using cold wax as a medium to paint with, finding that it was “a great medium that thickens to allow endless possibilities of layering color and texture.” His approach to painting transitioned to more of a deliberate peeling process where he builds up a foundation of layers and then scrapes specific parts away. Revealing the wax underneath exposes the journey he took in creating his painting –past to present– a unique process that many Abstract Expressionist painters of the 1940s utilized.
The pentimenti, or remnants of earlier layers that peek through the top layer in “Past Memories” bring the work together visually and add complexity and intrigue. For example, having scraped the ivory layer in the top right, Bettis reveals a haunting maroon layer that echoes other traces of red in the painting. In more ways than one, Bettis is alluding to the past. The thin, scribbled turquoise, red, and black lines recall an unfinished sketch, even though they were almost certainly added last. The overall appearance is raw and uncut, yet the composition pulls the focus towards the center, clearly demonstrating forethought.
For more works by Mark Bettis, visit http://www.ellarichardson.com/paintings.php?artID=117
& don’t forget to check back next Tuesday for another close look at a work premiering in the show!