In Mark Acetelli’s small, one-bedroom apartment in Koreatown, 4’x4’ and 5’x5’ paintings sit stacked back-to-back waiting for homes of their own, their facing sides layered with chunks of paint, bits of dirt, rope, and the candle-wax effect of liquid nails.
The pieces are mostly dark, reminiscent, expressive, soul-filled. Words dance into and out from the work. “The writing, sometimes it’s mine, sometimes it’s poetry, lyrics from a song,” says the artist. “I listen to a lot of music when I paint, so it’s often words from whatever I’m listening to.”
Self-taught, Acetelli sold others’ artwork door-to-door, dug ditches, worked in construction, explored sandwich “art” at Subway, and landed on his feet as a hairstylist before being stunned into self-belief by his discovery of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Not surprisingly, he also counts fellow artist and Basquiat film director Julian Schnabel as an inspiration.
“I’d rather move someone in some way then to have someone say ‘oh, that would match the couch.’ I’d rather have them feel something, whether it’s good or bad,” he reveals. “My work is becoming less autobiographical, but it has an intensity that comes from real deep in my soul.” He points at his canvas, a shadowed figure’s back to him. “That guy right there—I’ve been that guy.”