December 2023

The Enigma of Contemplation


The Art of David Wiley


What It Is

Is it what it is? Or is it what you think it is? Being a painter, I have had to deal with this question in various oblique ways over the years. It isn't a simple matter of things being what they are, and if you think they are something else, then you are mistaken. Subjectively and objectively play games with each other. For most of human history we have concerned ourselves with identifying things in such a way that they are more-or-less the same for everyone. When abstract painting appeared, at first people would ask questions like "What is it supposed to be?" It was disturbing for many, who wondered what they were missing. For centuries, though, people had been accustomed to finding metaphor in poetry, which is like abstract painting in the sense that it describes something by describing something else.

As with Impressionism, people began to "see things" and question what they were seeing. Whether or not humans have actually bettered themselves in the last thousand years, what we think of as human progress has always depended on our willingness to look at things in a new and different way, to expand our sense of the possible by using the playing ground between our inner and outer worlds. When a child comes to us and holds out a hand full of grass with a rock in the middle of it, and says, "This is a castle in the forest," we feel something mysterious brewing in our minds. If this looks like a castle in a forest, what if we were standing beside a castle in a forest? Would it look like a rock in a handful of grass?

Having been a painter for perhaps too many years, I sometimes look at one of my older paintings, and ask myself, "What is it?" Then I recall that it has always been part of the artist's job to ask such questions. There is something in our human nature that makes us want to question and doubt things, even as we are affirming them. 


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Lissa Tyler Renaud

David Wiley painter-poet: graduate of U. Kansas; studied at Mexico City College and with artist Ignacio Belen in Barcelona. Widely traveled, he exhibits throughout California and abroad. Wiley has published two volumes of poetry: Designs for a Utopian Zoo (1992) and The Face of Creation (1996). Since 2005, Wiley has received large mural commissions in Arizona, Mexico and California. Wiley is a longtime contributor to Scene4: paintings, poems, meditations on art, creative non-fiction.
To inquire about his paintings, click here.
For more of his paintings, poetry and writings, check the Archives.

©2023 David Wiley
©2023 Publication Scene4 Magazine




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