Art  Zoller  Wagner
Realist Painting: Artist's Statement


Figure Paintings

My figure work explores the intersection of the sacred and the psychological. Because it is impossible to grasp the sacred and the psyche directly, I approach these themes through the depiction of the human figure. These three--sacred, psyche, and body--all fascinate us, and yet also frighten us. For me, painting is a way to handle fire without getting burned.

I have degrees in psychology, religion, and art, but I find painting as contemplative exploration to be a more effective means to insight. My paintings record this process of discovery.

Swing, oil on canvas

   oil on canvas

In my figure painting, the methods I use and the details that I pay attention to are rooted in photography. I begin with sketchbook drawings, then refine these images using the camera to find a "true" gesture. The networks of calligraphic lines that often appear in my paintings originate in the grain patterns of photographs. The monochromatic color found in many of the paintings refers to black and white photographs. As in photos, the white that shows is actually the ground.

Although I apply paint onto the canvas with a brush, I frequently scrub, erase, or scratch it away to reveal the ground again. Traditionally, painters have applied heavy paint in the areas of lightness and thin washes in the areas of darkness. They believed that light exposes substance. Because I am more interested in the details that appear in areas of darkness, I leave the lightness unpainted and build up paint in the dark areas. Meaning often calls to us from the shadows, where it's sheltered from the sun's color-fading intensity.

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Artist's Statement

Awe, Ecstasy, and the Sacred

An Experimental Approach to Living and Art-making

Contemporary and Postmodern

Artist as Missionary

Artist's Statement for the Figure Paintings

Artist's Statement for Landscape Paintings

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About the Artist

Artist's Statement


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