Mark Engel


Mark Engel’s digital paintings are based on pre-existing images and photographs. By manipulating these cultural artifacts he develops a search for the abstract within the concrete; creating abstractions with new metaphorical meanings that reflect social, political and economic issues.

In these works, Mark did a contemporary research and rereading of Tibetan thangkas, paintings on fabric, usually representing a deity, Buddhist scene or mandala, focusing especially on thangkas that depict the dharmapālas, the “furious” gods and defenders of Buddhism.

Dharmapāla means “protector or defender of Dharma (cosmic law and order),” in Sanskrit. They are typically deities represented with furious iconography in the Mahayan and Tantric traditions of Buddhism. Although the dharmapālas have a terrifying appearance and countenance, they are all bodhisattvas or buddhas, personifications of compassion who act furiously for our benefit. Their appearance is not intended to scare, but rather to convey the willingness and strength needed to overcome and remove the powerful obstacles in the face of our spiritual progress.

Mark also makes a connection of these works with Auguste Rodin’s Gates of Hell not only through the symbols of death and hell but also inherent concepts of final judgment and universal justice.



Mark Engel is a Brazilian-American artist. Born in Rio de Janeiro, he lives and works in New York City. He received his BFA from Parsons School of Design. Mark’s work has been featured in group and solo exhibitions since 1993 at such venues as MAR (Museu de Arte do Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Art in General (New York, NY), Centro Cultural Candido Mendes (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), University of North Texas (Denton, TX), Austin Museum of Art (Austin, TX) and Centro Cultural dos Correios (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) among others. He has been critically praised in print by the New York Times, Jornal do Brasil, O Globo and other outlets. His work is included in private and institutional collections in Brazil, Europe and the United States. Mark has done extensive and pioneering creative work with digital paintings since 1995 as well as developed and organized new projects for emerging artists. His artwork deals with issues of abstraction vs. representation, seduction and repulsion, contemporary art practices, history and humor. In his computer generated artworks, Mark has developed abstract imagery based on stock photography, found images and scanned objects; the new imagery retaining just enough information to be recognizable as something real, but not enough to point to its origins.


Dharmapala Series

2019, Installation photographs, Centro Cultural Correios RJ, Rio de Janeiro Brazil