Mark Flood’s paintings are sumptuous compositions which incorporate painted images of tattered and torn lace set against backgrounds of bold saturated colors. They are torn and soiled remnants of doilies, tablecloths and curtains, yet they retain dignity and harbor storytelling potential. The filigree patterns have been destroyed by holes and rips, but the stray threads and ragged edges create other, irregular shapes that, like clouds, suddenly appear to be specific things. In this exhibition there are mermaids, peacocks and ubiquitous floral patterning. There is an enduring tension in Flood’s work between the rigorous patterning of the lace and the chaos of the tearing and flung threads which engages viewers emotionally.
Flood’s process has evolved since he first used the lace motif around 1998 as a background element for laser-print images. Gradually the lace motif took the forefront in his work. Surprisingly there are no collaged elements in Flood’s paintings, only paint on canvas. The technique he developed to create the paintings has a built-in element of chance. His delicate compositions are created by tearing and shredding old or new lace, which he then soaks in paint. He carefully arranges the saturated lace against a taut canvas, sometimes pressing paint through the lace, and then peals it away to reveal its impression on the surface. “When I started to tear (the lace), it added other things — the patterned landscape with the wildness and the freedom being torn up. The polarity is quite rich,” Flood says, “a circuit of meaning people can find themselves. It was a nice discovery for me.”