David Polka

Artist Statement

My work involves a utilization of stylistic and technical aspects pulled from my graffiti background to create figurative abstractions on found wood panels. I'm trying to explore different facets of the human experience using pared-down composition and relaxed, melancholy color schemes. Hopefully these place the viewer in a reflective state that encourages them to draw their own conclusions and interpretations of the work. I draw inspiration from a wide variety of sources, including illuminated manuscripts, anime, ex-voto paintings, Asian religious art, and the detritus of my environment. These works are my attempt to realize an ideal suggested by Baudelaire in his essay "The Salon of 1845": "The true painter will be the man who extracts from present-day life its epic aspects and teaches us in line and colors to understand how great and poetic we are in our patent-leather shoes and our neckties."

I am trying to attain this veneration of the mundane by creating an environment that maps out my experiences and emotions as they are occurring. However, I deliberately avoid any distinctly specific references or cues to events or people. Instead, these maps are left vaguely open-ended, as I am just as interested in someone else's experience with the painting as my own. Some of the most profound realizations I've had about my work have been prompted by another person's interpretation.

Artist Bio

I was born in Las Cruces in 1985, and spent the first seventeen years of my life getting into trouble and drawing on things. I was raised in a liberally artsy household, as both my parents attended art school and encouraged me to express myself creatively. I took extracurricular art classes from the time I was six years old until my freshman year of high school. During my sophomore year at Mayfield High School, I began taking art with Raul Dorn, a phenomenal teacher and incredibly talented artist who would become something of a mentor for me. Around this time I quit skateboarding, my main endeavor of the past four years, in favor of writing graffiti. This became my main artistic interest for a couple of years, until I became aware of the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat. I began painting on canvas and wood panels in crude appropriations of his work until Mr. Dorn showed me how to develop and embrace my own style. I am currently a junior at the University of New Mexico, pursuing a BFA in Art Studio, and, coincidentally, still getting in trouble and drawing on things.

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