Artist statement


With the use of everyday objects I combine the conventional subjects of still life painting with contradicting meaning and jest to expose an underlying web of absurdity that compasses daily life.


An element crucial to this series is tattoos, most of what I choose to paint is traditional style American tattoos and mystical symbolism. Like a hieroglyph, tattoos leave a legacy of meaning (and at times, non-meaning), but with the non-human ‘object’ this is removed. My work is closer to graffiti than it is to a tattoo, when artists give meaning to the lifeless object. The object is stagnant and formless before the artist might give a sense of purpose to the object. The merging point of meaning and stagnant object is exactly where my work begins. In the series Exotic Fruits, Classical still life meets classic amateur tattoo, as it is usually fruit that a beginning tattooer will practice on first.


Most of my work is generated from random, I took from the Surrealists the automatism technique to create words and images from states of near sleep or free drawing performed unconsciously or involuntarily. The correlations and meanings that come into being are very real. Only, I haven't found out entirely what they are yet.


Realism is a factor in my work, I feel where the surrealists fell short was some concrete link to reality. I paint objects as they appear naturally. I use objects rich and bursting color to create a popping effect between the dark background and subject. I am a self taught painter and take influence from traditional still life painters like the Dutch masters and modern realist painters.


Calvin Wagner