"Chortens and Golems"
Wooster Projects is happy to present Michael David’s new encaustic paintings, entitled "Chortens and Golems”, showing from October 26th to November 11th at 418 W.15th Street, New York. The artist’s opening night reception is October 26th from 6 to 9 pm.
Chortens are Tibetan Buddhist prayer temples, small, irregular pyramids with stepped sides, poured with decades of paint, layer upon layer organically flowing over the sides. Two to four people may enter at a time. David’s abstract paintings mirror the format and texture of Chortens.
David says, “I did not know of Chortens before I started the new paintings. I was just diagnosed with nerve damage in my legs, with no apparent explanation. I started to read a book by the Dali Lama about Buddhism to quiet my heart and mind. I don't practice Buddhism or any religion but I have found peace in reading about it and the images of Chortens looked very similar to the paintings I was creating. I discovered that wax – the wax I was painting with, the wax that injured my legs -- is the most sacred of materials in Buddhism, where it represents transition, transformation and fragility. Wax is the physical manifestation of compassion.”
“A Golem is completely the opposite, a monster, an Atom bomb, a reckless manmade force. In 18th century Prague, as legend has it, a Rabbi created a Golem by mixing wax, clay and semen, speaking invocations, drawing a figure and then setting it on fire, so the figure would come to life. Ms. Shelley used this legend to create Frankenstein story. The Golem was inanimate and had no soul. It was a Godless creature that proceeded to wipe out the Rabbi’s enemies, and then, by accident, the town’s innocents and then, very nearly the Rabbi himself. Finally, the Rabbi realized that he had been too ambitious, that no man can take God’s work in is own hands and so he destroyed his own creation. But the Golem turned to stone and fell upon the Rabbi, the creation destroying the creator.”
“In this sense, the Golem embodies creative impulse that, in the extreme, can be self-destructive and reckless. In my earliest symbol paintings, I used the Swastika for the Golem. Many Jews in Germany, protecting their own position from Communism, turned a blind eye to Hitler’s rise. Hitler himself is seen as a Golem. Using wax, I paint fallen figures that are coming in and out of existence. These are Golems, metaphors for my own struggle with the act of creation.”