For a number of years I’ve been making art from found materials or from materials which come from construction sites and/or other recycling projects. I pulp discarded newspapers for Papiér Maché for a textured paper surface over which I sometimes apply an oil pigment/wax encaustic treatment. The heated wax and pigment painting process is a method used by the ancient Greeks to polychrome sculpture. The rusted steel mesh, which I cut and polish, comes from the demolition and reclamation of old houses and commercial buildings in Tucson.
On one level, “Mars III” is the third in a series of Mars “paintings” or “objects” that calls into focus the idea of “painting as object.” The encaustic provides a certain lush textural quality that cannot be found with other materials. On another level, the juxtaposition of these materials lends depth to the piece. The rusted steel mesh, though sanded to reveal metal that is not quite oxidized completely through, calls to mind the burnished surface of Mars, the red planet. In this way, Mars, a planet without oxygen, and the red piece, with its oxidized materials, both capture the sense of time’s inevitable passing and the impermanence of all things. In any event, there is no one way to think about this work. Ultimately, it can be simply viewed as all about the beauty of material reality and the pleasure one gets in the looking; an old idea but a universal, timeless one.
Don West 1/ 2012