Metalheads: Steven DaLuz, San Antonio, Texas
[Editor’s note: The following is part of a four-part exploration, which begins with Michael Pearce’s eloquent essay in which he sets the stage as only Dr. Pearce can.]
INTERVIEW WITH STEVEN DALUZ BY MICHAEL PEARCE
San Antonio, Texas ~
Michael Pearce: Is there a sensual quality to the material that attracts you to it?
Steven DaLuz: Absolutely. Regarding gold leaf, there is a certain seductive quality to it. There is a warmth to its amber coloration, despite the coldness normally associated with metals. The metal’s reflective properties are essential in my work for depicting light in ways I cannot with oil paint alone. It appears to change color and intensity, depending on the light that strikes it and from which direction the light comes. And yet it will never rust or tarnish. Its luster and permanence make it intrinsically valuable and beautiful. In the case of composition: gold and copper leaf’s ability to oxidize is an asset. With these materials, I can employ chemicals to create patinas on the metal. Once this is sealed and glazes of oil are applied, the underlying metal leaf will project a sense of energy and movement.
Michael Pearce: To many people, gold implies materiality, wealth, money. Does it imply these things to you? If not, how does using metal in your work reflect your own ideology?
Steven DaLuz: While I do not use the gold in my work to convey wealth, money, or materiality, there is an innate value to the material because of its luster and permanence. We know from art history that gold was used by Byzantine artists and artists of the Middle Ages primarily to place spiritual subjects apart from the everyday carnal world. The gold conveyed a “divine” space. I do not consciously use the gold to do this, though I am most definitely interested in spiritual matters and man’s search for answers related to his presence in this realm and the possibility of dimensions of existence beyond that which we can understand with our limited senses. I am not consciously trying to create any kind of state of transcendence; but I hope to help transport myself and the viewer to another place ~ even if just for a brief moment. I try to convey a kind of yearning for truth and beauty. Something beyond the temporal.
Michael Pearce: What is the relationship between the practice of making paintings and the intention of the paintings? Are you experiencing a spiritual engagement in the studio that comes out of the paintings?
Steven DaLuz: The practice of making the paintings is inexorably tied to the intent of the work itself. While working in my studio, I crank up ethereal, wordless music that helps me to focus entirely on the work before me. Truth is, I am not a religious person, in the “organized religion” sense of the word. This does not mean I am not spiritual, or that I do not think about matters that go beyond our understanding of this physical realm. Even the work I create now has some unconscious, spiritual component to it. The longer I live, the more I have come to believe that everything in the universe is connected.
Steven DaLuz: I am equally interested in abstraction and figuration, so I do not fight it. It is simply how my brain is wired. Most of my “abstractions” are only partially abstract ~ in that they refer to something real or that could be real. I like to create the idea of a place, whether steeped in reference to landscape, or to celestial forms. As I paint these, I am transported to another realm in my mind. Because they are entirely from my imagination, I just allude to the notion of some environment that may allow the viewer to bring up a memory of someplace they have been, or would like to be. They have a vague recollection, but the place is not literal. The ethereal properties of light suggest a source that can be otherworldly.
Is it the sun? Is it from within? Is it beyond? I leave that for the viewer to decide. If everything is in complete focus, I have just created an illustration that declares everything the viewer needs to know. I hope to engage the viewer more.
Steven DaLuz: Because I am so interested in aspects of ethereal light, mystery and the sublime in most of my work, I began experimenting with metal leaf about eight years ago. I quickly realized that I could exploit the reflective properties of the metal leaf by glazing color over the metal. As light passes through the glazes of oil paint, it bounces off the underlying metal and reflects light back in a manner that I cannot achieve with oil paint alone. The end result is that the finished painting can often appear as though light is emanating from within the piece itself.
Steven DaLuz: The metal leaf can function as both physical object, or as light, depending upon how it is used in the work. Different results are achieved, depending on the opacity or transparency of the colors used. When I use metals that can oxidize, I employ chemicals that are allowed to form patinas on the surface. After sealing this, I make decisions on how much I will cover those sections with oil paint, and how much I will allow to peak through. The end result usually supplies an additional element of movement and energy to the work. This is an essential ingredient when I am contrasting areas of activity against areas of passivity, calm against chaos, stillness against tumult. These are necessary for me to address the notion of the sublime in my work. The metal leaf provides these properties for me.
Steven DaLuz: When I use gold leaf (composition or real) there is a warmth of amber that unifies the pieces in a way that satisfies my propensity for this color and the feelings it can evoke while I paint.
Visit his website at: stevendaluz.com.