India Mark's paintings use a light-filled palette that allows her portraits and still life subjects to flicker with associations. In the portraits, features are shared across paintings – a particular element of the face may gain more prominence in the next incarnation. The accompanying still life paintings work as a contemplative context for the character studies. Oil colour is built up through underpainting, bringing luminescence to skin tones and a pearly sheen to porcelain, gold and ceramic. Light sources are indirect, softening outlines across arranged objects.
Mark's work fuses together aesthetics from past and present to reveal a delicate engagement with her subjects. The figure paintings represent archetypes rather than individuals, an approach that frees the artist to explore psychological and physical qualities without needing to respond to the desires of the sitter or to project a certain status on the subject. The works are liberated from the pressures of direct portraiture through her understanding of Dutch tronie or "character head" painting. Guided by this 17th Century genre, Mark's characters are constructs formed from life drawing subjects and sourced imagery. The fleshy density of her figures is rich and warm against strident backgrounds of pinks and blues. There is an androgynous strength in the gaze from these faces.
Mark has used paint to scrape away at the surface imagery, placing objects and characters within non-narrative and timeless interiors. The ambiguity of the domestic settings invites a focus on psychological states –vulnerability, confrontation or ambivalence. Presence and gaze override the necessity for narrative and leave us free to look for subtle differences in expression. The cups and saucers become an extension of the body: weathered, humbled by use and rinsed out (like her palette). The vibrating edge given to objects acknowledges Italian painter Giorgio Morandi, but the co-presentation of her figure and still life paintings reveals that these are not just compositional studies. India Mark's cups and saucers are intimately understood objects that support daily rituals. The Domestica works link the nuanced action of applying paint to canvas with the repetitive motions of preparing cups of tea or coffee. The daily practice of painting is echoed in the daily preparation of the food and drink that sustains us.
India Mark was a finalist in the Archibald Prize 2016 with her first painting submission – a portrait of musician Dane Taylor. She was awarded the Foundation for Visual Arts Scholarship from the ANU School of Art and is continuing with a Master of Fine Arts and the National Art School. Two of her works are included in the archival collection of the National Art School.