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The Present Tense

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Mark Pavlovits

December 17, 2020
By: Abe Lampert

Every object you encounter is the terminus of a long process. Often, the most simple seeming things have the most complicated and arduous origins. A physical entity can contain an invisible story. Years of history, research and labor may be folded into its body. This is especially true of art objects, which are sometimes intentionally vague about the manner in which they came to be. Part of their appeal can be the evocative air of mystery about them - the impression of having just spontaneously appeared, already complete. The maker however, remembers.

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Mark Pavlovits carries this memory in what he makes. “People don’t see the forty or fifty failed attempts,” Mark says of his enigmatic process, the origin of which can be traced to his study of gemology:

I spent years trying to recreate the beauty I saw in [...] gemstones with my glasswork. I used to work early on with recycled shards of glass. I remember seeing the beauty in a single shard of glass on the floor of my studio and how it perfectly mimicked the beauty of an unworked rough gemstone. I saved that shard of glass and thought about it for some time. I wanted to use that shard (and many more) to make large forms but was met with many challenges. It took an uncountable amount of hours [...] over a few years.

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Born and raised in California by a family of artists, Pavlovits earned degrees from the California College of Arts and Crafts and the Gemological Institute of America. Dedicated to the design and craft of glass, he opened his studio in 2011 where he continued to produce work extracted from his study of gemology combined with his experience of the natural world in his vast California surroundings.

From his early experiments with gemstones, Mark’s process has evolved through a compound practice that now produces unique and spell-binding objects that are, at a glance, as inexplicable as they are compelling. Each vessel is a conversation between differing textural elements, resulting in a balanced frequency of color and composition. Meditating within a selectively curated portion of the color spectrum, these vessels speak a cohesive and dependable chromatic language. Assertively stunning, Pavlovits’ work is unashamed of its own beauty.

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To encounter these objects is to wonder how they came to be. Feelings of familiarity encounter alien elements - we see blown glass that has been encumbered with an incongruous seeming substance, yet their harmony is undeniable. Two disparate members have fused into a single body, becoming a unanimous entity that invents itself upon our viewing of it. This unanimity is a fluid state of optical reference; an object that may be seen both through and against. An interaction of shifting contours and parameters that result in an experience of looking that calms the viewer into a meditative state.

For Mark, the making of this work is rooted in an impulse to disseminate experiences that might otherwise be his alone. Often, those experiences come from an excitement found in the materiality of natural phenomena. “I've never met a stick, branch, tree, or stump I didn't want to take home with me” he says. Inspired by the erosion, decay and patina encountered in nature, he wants to make things that are rough and raw, yet refined. Juxtaposing polished angles with irregular surfaces, his work recalls a sublimity found in the atrophy of organic material:

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I remember specifically observing wood grain in a grand old fallen down tree. The combination of knowing there is such history there [...] the un-designed (or naturally designed) yet perfectly placed colors and patterns of the grain. I wished glass could have that... This moment also reminds me of that Alexander McQueen quote: "There is no better designer than nature". Writing this down triggered that memory. That moment along with seeing the natural rough beauty in stones started me on this path of desiring something extra from glass.

Pavlovits has found that “something extra” but has left its mystery intact, as though he is preserving a campsite or a place of worship. The goal is to capture something infinitely larger than the vessel that holds it. To preserve the mystery in making is to distribute mystery as a moveable experience. “I love that I create vessels,” he says. “Almost always the ancient vessels I see were created for some type of ceremony or worship. I am not a religious person at all but I am spiritual and love the idea of creating my very own worship...I draw so much influence and inspiration from nature for my vessels that I tell myself that my works are made as a worship and an offering to our natural world.”

An offering and a worship, in which we couldn’t be happier to be involved. We present to you Mark Pavlovits’ newest body of work, the result of considerable labor and study, and surely the herald of many more things to come.

Mark's work is now of view at Casa Perfect New York.