Urban art pioneer, educator and writer Mark Wigan has been described as Britain’s foremost Pop Artist by London Weekend Television he has been an illustrator and roving reporter for street style bible i-D Magazine, exhibited his paintings with Miles Davis and John Lennon in Japan and was commissioned by Andy Warhol to paint murals in New York in the 1980s.
Warhol described Wigan’s four floor high mural at the Limelight Club in London’s West End as HOT, recommending him to paint the New York Limelight Club and introducing him to Keith Haring and the New York downtown art, music and club scene of 1986.
A prolific graphic artist Wigan’s drawings and paintings have chronicled and celebrated club culture since the 1980s he is the ultimate night club artist as the Independent put it ‘He paints pictures of nightclubs and night-club people,and is commissioned to decorate night-clubs with similar scenes. He also runs nightclubs and likes to relax in …..night-clubs.
In 1985 the NME stated ‘Paris had Toulouse Lautrec. Londons got WIGAN. Thats the nom de nib of Mr Mark Williams an artist whose poser packed drawings immortalise the murky menagerie of late night London hipsterdom’.
Wigan is named after the Northern Soul Mecca in the Lancashire town of Wigan -home to the legendary Casino, big baggy trousers and some spectacular dancing.
Journalist Keith Watson wrote ‘Looking at these pictures is like walking into a room with a ghetto blaster cranked up high’. During the Summer of Love of 1988 his artwork was everywhere from acid house record sleeves for the likes of A Guy called Gerald and Frankie Bones, music video animations to T-Shirts,flyer designs and night-club murals in London ,Tokyo and New York seminal clubs including The Brain Club, P.Picasso and Gold.
When the going gets tough the tough make Graphic Art and
Wigan’s black and white drawing chronicled the underground club and street culture during the Recession of the early 1980s Philip Hoare wrote ‘Wigan observes Britain in Recession where an alternative economy of warehouse parties and market stalls provide work for the dispossessed. It’s not all despondency, however, and the humour in Wigan’s work comes through’.
The Face magazine commented that Wigan’s work revitalises more stoic forms of social realism with a neon bright parade of semi fictitious cult classics, snap, crackle and popping their way through the heated hordes of clubland
Alix Sharkey writing in the Independent stated ‘Some of the early works from the 1985 London Subterraneans series, for example are now revealed as astonishingly accurate maps,showing the development of the attitudes, hairstyles, clothing and interests that defined a subculture. If a picture tells a thousand words, Wigan’s drawings are worth an entire library of professorial works on pop culture.
For the past 10 years he has lectured on graphic design and illustration leading undergraduate and postgraduate courses at some of the worlds foremost art and design institutions and has just completed a series of five books on illustration published by AVA Publishing and distributed by Thames and Hudson.
His Visual Dictionary of Illustration and Global Contexts of Illustration are published in the Spring.