Mark Demsteader’s journey to becoming one of Britain’s leading figurative painters has been far from conventional. Born in 1963, his formative years were spent amidst the sights and sounds of Manchester’s Meat Market. Here as a child he accompanied his father to the family butchery and meat packing business. Completely absorbed in the noise, smells and sheer physicality of this environment, the young Mark learnt more about the structure of sinew, bone and flesh, albeit livestock not human, than in any subsequent life drawing class.
As a teenager, passionate about pursuing an artistic career, Mark completed two foundation courses,first at Oldham and then Rochdale colleges of art. However in the 1980s conceptual art dominated the mainstream market and there were slim pickings for a young determinedly figurative painter in Manchester. Forced to return to work at his father’s wholesale butchery Mark continued to attend life classes religiously throughout the next decade.
In the early 1990s the family business fell victim to the recession and Mark was spurred on to find a commercial outlet for his work. To allow himself time to build a portfolio he took a job as an art technician at an Oldham grammar school for ten years. A short course at the Slade gave him an opportunity to tour the London galleries with his portfolio but with Brit Art in the ascendency he found good drawing very much out of favour. Luckily a gallery in Greenwich had the fore sight to offer him space in a mixed show and he sold six works at the opening. Mark gave notice at the grammar school soon after.
Mark’s subsequent rise to prominence in the art world is gratifying to those of us who admire that increasingly rare talent of good draughtsmanship. He now holds an annual solo exhibition with Panter &Hall in the West End and is a principal artist at every art fair we attend, his international reputation is also flourishing and he now has representation with a leading art dealer in Japan.