David Mahler

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 My affinity with landscape grows out of the intuition that beauty in nature is an innately human perception and evokes a meaningful response. Landscape painting is an expression of regard for  the poetry of the visible natural world. This awareness of how the forms in nature may be synthesized with the schematic vocabulary of painting informs my practice. In the painting of Constable and Van Ruisdael, I find the classical formal models that serve as my templates for reading order into the random events of nature. When conceptualizing the visible world in these terms I feel a universality and a neutrality of content which serves as an  ideal vehicle for personal expression; the expression of my individual attitude toward the world in general.
      Many of my subjects (bridges, skies, water etc.) appeal to a preference for a dynamic movement which invests the painting with life. For example, the geometry and perspective of a bridge describes a movement which propels attention deep into space, this is a means of both creating space and pulling the viewer into the space. The purpose is to create a pictorial space where the mind may dwell and be led by the eye through passages of color, form texture etc., comprising a feeling;  largely encompassing beauty and wonder, sometimes specific emotion but necessarily centered on feeling and so devoted to  the effect of the painting rather than to the details of a particular place.
    As for other formal elements, Turner has been a significant influence on my sense of color as a primary mode of expression. In this regard, I paint in the Venetian tradition. Some of my other current influences in the area of visionary content are: Inness, Max Ernst and Anselm Kiefer. These artists all have inspired me in how I generate imagery through integrating technique and imagination; by combining media. i.e. photography, shellac, water and oil paint, I have expanded my vocabulary of painted expressions, finding forms in random marks and paint effects as in the work of Max Ernst, exploiting aggressive texture as a foil to pictorial illusion.  I find these kinds of playful techniques  expand the dimensions of sensation and potential meaning within an otherwise traditional genre of landscape. It is through this process that new sources of pictorial life generate form through the tension between predictability and randomness. The unmethodical working process is a catalyst for surprise . . . ambiguity, a source of non-literal communication whereby an undefined outcome leads to a discovery of new forms.
    Contemporary interpretation creates new meaning out of past art by expanding on the old forms. Art may be enlivened by building on tradition.  The past is unfinished.