Scratched, Rusted, Dented, and Mangled Steel

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The metal wall sculptures of Aspen artist Mark Cesark will be on display at Magidson Fine Art Gallery, Aspen from August 13 to 24. Cesark is well known for his use of steel from discarded machines and vehicles. He cuts and joins them into wall sculptures emphasizing the natural patinas and textures as a painter would. What is most unusual is that Cesark does not alter or manipulate the aged and weathered surfaces. Most viewers are pleasantly surprised by the subtle beauty and painterly quality of these coarse materials.

These are the metal canvases of Aspen artist Mark Cesark. He scours the junkyards, ranches, and forgotten farms of beautiful Colorado in search of the perfect materials – aged and time-worn steel. The rusting discarded metal is forgotten scrap to the untrained eye, but to Cesark, they are the raw materials for his unusual art.

And they are beautiful. Cesark cuts, flattens, and joins the ancient sheets into spectacular wall sculptures. But, aside from a simple cleaning, he refuses to alter the weathered surfaces. "Time and the elements are my brushes." It is an old promise he vowed not to break – never to change the naturally aged patinas.

The metal paintings hang like their traditional cousins - on the wall. But this is where their similarity ends. Cesark's works are rich tapestries of color and texture that only slowly reveal their humble beginnings: a bit of a huge machine, the side of a train, or part of an ancient truck. But the surfaces are somehow familiar, albeit out of context, and we remember them on a subliminal level. They are part of our history, our utilitarian past, reborn into works of art.

Mark Cesark learned his craft in the old tradition of years of art school (MFA from Mass College of Art) followed by a lengthy apprenticeship with a master sculpture. He mastered the many techniques of working with metal, allowing him the freedom to experiment, to see beyond the craft into the art.

Cesark was one of John Powers' favorite emerging artists. Before his death in 1999, Powers was considered one of the most important contemporary collectors in the world. And with his help, Cesark's works now hang in many important collections throughout the world.

Magidson Fine Art Gallery has been exhibiting museum collected international artists in Aspen for 15 years, and over 30 years in New York. The gallery is well known in the region for bringing world-class art to the Rocky Mountains.

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Jay Magidson
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