I am interested in the dualities I see shaping the grand dance of the universe: tragedy and beauty, chaos and order, destruction and creation. The paintings I make are enigmatic meditations on impermanence and the sublime. My work is heavily influenced by my love of spending time surrounded by mountains, staring at the stars, and considering the epic of what has come before and the potential for the future. 

 

When I think about how a mountain is created, I think about the order and chaos that went into its design. I contemplate high temperatures, the randomness of different molten materials being mixed into each other under the stress of monumental pressure, and the violence and complexity of the epic events which conclude in the geology exposed on our planet’s surface. Then we have glaciers, volcanic activity, rain, snow, wind, and gravity. 

 

At the same time, there is order. Gravity will always pull down. Light will always come from above. The seasons will come to pass on a calendar. 

 

The notion of impermanence, championed by Buddhists, is also a theme in my work. In comparison to rocks or mountains our time here on Earth is minute; yet everything is in a state of change, including geology. In our lifetimes a mountain, or boulder, or rock, or star may not appear to be changing at all. But everything is in a state of flux, being altered by the stresses and influences of what is near and the physics of our reality.

 

And then I think about how all of these ideas are parallel to the human experience. Our physical reality relies greatly on the form and condition of our bodies. The mental state is dependent on the body, but is also changed through formative moments; our upbringing, impactful moments, and environmental factors for which we have no control. The existence of all things seems to have an arc of creation, being formed, changed, and eventually dissolved. 

 

There’s the question of how I relate to this while I’m inventing my “formations” from my imagination. I am a witness when I observe the natural world, but I am a creator when I make art. I am attempting to communicate the effect that nature has on me when I’m immersed in it. The power and grandeur of our universe, the sense of the sublime, and impermanence, are all concepts that I convey by painting and drawing. 

I am a native of California who received his MFA in New York City. Currently, I make art and am a full time professor in Livermore, California. 

© 2015 by DAVE WAGNER

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