Deliquescent portraits appearing as if in a state of metamorphic transience hang alongside images rendered eerie through crisp meticulousness of style in Mark Hipper's poignant exploration of mortality and transience. Steeped in thematic content similar to that of seventeenth century 'Vanitas' Paintings, Hipper's images make effective reference to the Latin notion of 'Memento Mori' - remember that you must die. This thematic concern is revealed most predominantly through what Hipper refers to as the key work of the exhibition - entropy. As point of departure in Hipper's visual dialogue on the transitory, the liminal, the interim, the mortal, entropy presents the viewer with a rendition of Hans Holbein's anamorphic skull, representational of the absent presence of death. Only visible from a single angle, this symbol of mortality comes to fulfil an analogous function in referring, not only to the in'visible' presence of death, but in alerting the viewer to his/her own involvement in the production of meaning through the viewing process.
In moving on from entropy, the viewer is presented with a series of five monochromatic watercolours; interim series: Blume, interspersed by The Metaphysics of Architecture, an almost photographically rendered charcoal drawing. These delicately visceral portraits, hovering within the liminal space of the frame and appearing as if on the verge of dissolution or metamorphosis, further extend the reference to the transient that underlies the show. The German reference to 'flower', in the title of this series, suggests to the viewer the cyclical processes of growth and decay inherent to the natural world. The impermanence associated with this continual process of becoming, referenced through the 'interim' state these portraits occupy, becomes juxtaposed against the 'permanence' of the architectural structure, ultimate monument to the strength and assumed immortality of mankind and 'civilisation', making up the background of The Metaphysics of Architecture. Positioned at a similar angle to the skull in entropy, the single figure of this image, caught suspended in mid air, embodies the ideals inherent to the notion of civilisation while simultaneously referencing its inevitable fragility and transience. Pushing both the physical and mental condition toward a state of excellence, as dictated by the activity he appears engaged in, the boy represents mankind's continual attempt to overcome both the corporeal and mortal state.
Beautiful in execution these works nevertheless elicit sensations in the viewer reminiscent of those associated with the disturbing, the uncanny. Through the careful juxtaposition of strangely lucid yet fragile portraits and meticulously controlled charcoal drawings, a tension is set up, allowing for the almost palpable realisation of all that underlies the notion of 'Memento Mori'. This is particularly obvious in the final piece of the show- canny. Based on the well-known photograph taken by Charcot, this image makes reference to Freud's notions of the 'uncanny', while presenting a fitting closure to this visual dialogue on the transience of materiality and the inevitability of death.
Nikki Winward Cross, January 2002
Mark Hipper - 'Interim' at João Ferreira, Hazel Friedman, ArtThrob Issue No. 53, January 2002