Mark Whalen

Meandering, lustrously-realised musings on the everyday.

Mark Whalen artist
Sculptures being made in the studio of artist Mark Whalen
Sculptures being made in the studio of artist Mark Whalen
4 images

Mark Whalen (he/him) was born in Sydney in 1982, and now lives and works in Los Angeles.

Collections

Featured in prominent Australian collections including Artbank, Sydney, the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and Mainland Art Fund, Melbourne.

Did you know?

Whalen’s show Bail Bond at Sydney’s China Heights sought to recoup the money he spent on bail after spending several weeks in a Tokyo prison for graffiti-related charges in 2006.

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Practice overview

Fragmented figures offer lively takes on daily life. Predominantly working in sculpture, but also painting and drawing, Whalen pairs household objects like washing-up sponges and furniture with human heads and hands. The exaggerated facial expressions and body language work to comic effect — often stacked or tangled together in awkward, unforgiving positions to symbolise life’s trials and tribulations. Rooted in his background as a graphic designer, colour is key to Whalen’s trademark style. Fluorescent hues contrast against deep lapis and reflective metal, all created with a range of materials and techniques including cast aluminum, polyurethane, clay, airbrush and mirror chrome.

Whalen’s process is based on trial and error. He starts by sketching free-flowing drawings. Then, weeks, sometimes even months later, he transposes these drawings into digital renders which are then 3D printed and finally cast by hand. Once the prototype is created, Whalen experiments with variations in size and composition until he settles on a design. The final figurations enter into an overarching narrative — each body part throughout Whalen’s oeuvre belonging to a single protagonist. This protagonist however, according to the artist, is not a physical person but is instead a metaphorical archetype: an artistic representation of the vast spectrum of human emotion.

"I find the times we’re living in completely absurd, but not void of humor, or humanity."Mark Whalen