About Mark Henson

Mark Henson sitting on bus steps

I’ve always been interested in weird stuff. I was elated to discover that through the use of a pencil I could create my own universe, if only on paper. I was lucky enough to encounter some ancient wisdom from India while a youngster, and so I learned to focus my creative ability on what I do best, and to work for the enlightenment of all.

My art tends to be somewhat narrative- I like to tell a story or show a state of emotion or consciousness with my images. I often begin with some sort of idea or theme. This theme might be suggested by anything, or may just drift into consciousness during my day. I am often asked if I receive these images while dreaming asleep.

Sometimes they do come in dreams, but usually they are floating around in my mind, just waiting to be noticed.

While I tend to be a down-to -earth person, when aspiring to creativity, I begin by looking deeply within myself, and seek to express what I may find there. My sincere wish is to tap into the Divine Source of Being, to Consciousness, to Spirit, or whatever you may call it-, that place where existence comes from, and to bring into visual reality images manifesting the knowledge revealed while in this presence. Strangely enough, I have discovered that the more intensely personal my vision is, the more universal its message when presented to the world.

I believe that art can have the ability to catalyze social and cultural changes. Art has the magical power to evoke emotional as well as intellectual thinking. Realizing this, my desire as an artist is to create compelling images of beauty and power that serve to promote our Conscious Evolution as human beings, and to show us how to live in a peaceful world. To this end I like to explore and present images with themes of Awakening Consciousness, Divine Sexuality, Political Realities and Living in Harmony with Nature.

“The Visionary Eroticism and Political Satire Art of Mark Henson “.

Commentary by Monti Moore

Mark’s sense of eroticism expresses itself in a less voyeuristic and more spiritual way than most art associated with human passion. He is more interested in the merging of souls than the merging of organs.

It is his lifetime self-ordained duty to create a body of work that is filled with positive imagery surrounding lovemaking in a culture where sex is often associated with exploitation, violence and abuse. He sees the merging of souls as the manifestation of the cosmic design inherent in all living things.

He calls upon our divinity as natural sensual beings in harmony with our environment by depicting lovers in all forms. He defines lovemaking as a revelation more than a thrill, respectful of the gentle interplay when all creatures are in harmony, including the elements associated with death and the infinite.

In his vibrant colored oil paintings he delights in emulating the divine by bringing something out of nothing into its own sense of existence. Through these images the deepest parts of our collective soul are delivered visually imbued with the core of creation and the love of humanity. Mark views eroticism and the sex ritual as a natural and exalted state of consciousness.

Mark also paints dark side of humanity in his political satires. They are timely icons of universal fear and global concern. We are surrounded by negative input by mass media. The so-called war between the sexes plays an immense role in forming the patterns of our social interactions. How do we depict love when the most truthful loving acts are often considered evil or pornographic by politicians and religious fanatics? Yet, images of war, competition, attempts at control over each other fill our eyes.

His comic approach is stirring and iconoclastic.

Spiral Art of Mark Henson By Reid Stuart

The oil paintings of California artist Mark Henson offer a rare combination of refreshingly original imagery, technical proficiency, and competent craftsmanship. Precedents for his style come from California visionary artists from the late 1960s and early 1970s.  For instance, Joseph Parker painted hallucinatory forms emerging out of nature, Gage Taylor painted nude people relaxing in natural settings, and Bill Martin painted landscapes that were formed into geometrical shapes with metaphysical significance.  Currently, Karma Moffit produces skyscapes reminiscent of the skies created by Henson.

Illusion of Reality

Like some paintings by Alex Grey, Henson’s Astral Embrace (1978) and Illusion of Reality (1995)

treat the emergence of the soul from the body, or the emergence of the spirit into a loftier realm.  Yet, with the exception of Scarab (1982),

Scarab

a single early work clearly derivative of some of Rick Griffin’s album covers for the Grateful Dead, Henson has relied on his personal vision rather than inspiration from other contemporary artists.  Consequently, he has evolved a mature personal style that deserves broader scrutiny by the public. A majority of “New Age” visionary artists clutter their canvases with cosmic symbols recycled from the iconography of the world‚s various religions, both extant and extinct.

While perhaps laudable in the intent of furthering the multicultural agenda of progressive liberals, it is likely that future art historians will harshly judge this mishmash of vajras, the letter om, astrological signs, and pre-Cortésian artifacts.  The anachronistic smorgasbord of ancient symbols, plucked out of context and haphazardly slapped together, not only risks an injustice to the original spiritual traditions, but dates the piece of art so that becomes almost passé before the paint is dry.  Henson has avoided this pitfall by largely eschewing the depiction symbols or even manufactured artifacts such as clothing. Henson has, however, produced several fabulous political commentaries rich in social meaning.  These pictures would be considered satirical cartoons if not executed with such a high degree of skill.  March of Progress (1993) evinces environmental concerns.  Land of the Free, Home of the Brave (1995) includes a corrupt businessman reminiscent of a capitalist out of a Diego Rivera mural.  Fast Food Chain (1997) lampoons the mass consumer culture.  Sharing the Wealth (2000) presents a hilarious hyperbole of economic disparity.  These works, lavish in morbid humor, parallel the best of Robert William‚s oil paintings, which derived from his background as an underground cartoonist.

Henson’s most prevalent theme is the tasteful and wholesome portrayal of man and woman locked in amorous embrace.  These heterosexual copulations occur in bucolic natural settings, do not entail a pornographic focus on genitalia, and offer a “sex positive” perspective that transcends the decadent approach to sexuality found in mainstream media.  Examples include Nature Lovers (1994), Between Worlds (1995), Earthly Delights (1996), and Sunset Sacrament (1997).  A psychedelic aspect involves the transmutation of the mating couple into natural elements.  Desert Life (1995) and Ravine Rapture (1996) each show a copulating couple made of rock.  Similarly, Temple Transformation (1996) has a group of stone lovers based on a sculpted stone relief sculpture on the wall of a tantric temple at Kahajaro.  Cloud Lovers (1992) and Nubian Bliss (1999) have the lovers in clouds, and Flames of Passion (1995) shapes them out of fire.  Living Water (1995) and Riverine Reverie (1995) have the couples formed out of water.  Sylvan Serenity (2000) shows two sets of lovers who are made out of trees.  Tree Incarnation (2003) shows several trees comprised of mating couples, with a central tree fashioned as a woman beckoning to a spiral galaxy overhead, while a pair of human skeletons embrace on the ground where her feet are rooted.  Also, in Contemplation (1984) the fingers of a woman‚s hand turn into roots.  The crafting of humans in sylvan form has precedents, in Gustave Dore‚s rendering of the suicides in Dante‚s Inferno, and in the ancient stone temple sculptures of yaks_ tree nymphs in India ˆ some of whom were shown half emerging out of a tree. Finally, Spiral Genesis (2004) shows a spiral emerging from the sky.  This develops into a profusion of mating animals that advance up the phylogenic spectrum as they move closer to the foreground.  The closest part of the spiral becomes a pair of Homo sapiens making love across the entire left half of the canvas.

It should be noted that Henson’s other common motif is the spiral, which is found throughout his oeuvre, either as minor details like a snail shell, or as major elements such as galaxies or cloud formations. Examples of paintings with spirals include Wonders of Nature (1989), Eyes of the World (1989), Double Helix (1991), Fractured Universe (1998), and Snail Logic (2003). With its pleasant range of pastel hues and joyously harmonious composition, this latter piece is perhaps the artist’s most beautiful work.  We can hope that in the future Henson will continue to inspire us with transcendental imagery and entertain us with wry political satire.