Art Nomad
Art Nomad
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Mark SCHALLER (b.1962)

Mark Schaller was a founding member of the original Roar Studios, a contingent of artists who set up a co-operative in Fitzroy, Melbourne in 1982. Remembering the foundation of Roar, he recalled of Fitzroy and the inner city art scene, “There was nothing else…there were tumbleweeds coming down Brunswick Street”. Born in Hamburg, West Germany in 1962, Schaller had migrated to Melbourne and studied film and other visual arts before enrolling in Fine Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts.

As part of the vibrant ROAR arts collective, Schaller was very much influenced by Figurative Expressionism - and the use of bright colours. He quickly established his unique approach using a semi-abstract ‘naïve’ style that echoed artists such as Picasso and Klee. Indeed, one of his most famous works, “Four Women”, which is part of the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, is a bold figurative work that is part Fernand Leger, part Cubist and part Roar vibrancy but which ultimately demonstrates the artist’s highly personal stamp.

Schaller’s distinctive style has elements of Cubism, Outsider Art and Fauvism especially in his use of vibrant colour. It also has strong humanist influences as Schaller himself said: "When I paint, everything else becomes irrelevant. There's no one to tell you what's right or wrong. You can be irrational or rational, emotional or not emotional, sober or conservative. You can be all these things."

Today, Mark Schaller has evolved into one of Australia’s most highly recognised and respected mid-career artists though he remains grounded in learning: he reportedly still takes weekly life drawing classes.  He boasts an association with other Roar success stories such as David Larwill and Peter Ferguson. Like his contemporary Larwill, Schaller’s output covers a multitude of mediums and methods including painting, sculpture, glass, ceramics and printmaking – even polystyrene is a used material. He has a strong interest in Expressionism and Primitivism that continues to be reflected in his art.

The creation of “The Schaller” hotel in Bendigo - where there is one of his artworks in every room and on the building façade - points to his deeply embedded presence within the broader landscape of Australian art.

Career highlights include successful solo exhibitions in Australia and overseas and prizes including the Fishers Ghost Award; the inaugural Architeam architectural awards 2005: and winner of the Mount Buller Art Prize 2007.  Schaller’s works are held in private collections both in Australia and internationally and he has exhibited extensively throughout the world since 1981. He is also represented at the National Gallery of Victoria, the National Gallery of Australia Canberra, and in regional, corporate and university collections across the country.

by Wordmakers 2018.


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