Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
© 2013 Dominique Ovalle
The old world has fallen away; we look for the New World now. I entreat you with symbols, signs and code-talking—a new language I’ve learned while prowling the jungles of angst in this “Romantic Life,” which is utterly unromantic. Sometimes I run away, and enter into emptiness. Inside darkness cannot comprehend the light that searches for us. On the bottom of the ocean, light must be generated from within. But something does not come from nothing. What was something born of?
My paintings operate as a map to strange destinations—charting weird trips through swampy, melancholic emptiness, as well as encounters of sweat and bliss, all in a wild expedition for joy, light and truth. These works are an outcome of pleasure experienced through observation of water, light, space and paint. These are the swagger and the dance; the reward and fruit of risking the life of the painting for the possibility of a new discovery in the realm of technique, mark-making, and communication. Each painting has survived and come to term—winning the battle for the full measure of their embryonic experience. They will; see life.
Harmony is desirable, but one must be aggressive to find it. I pour and slush chemicals onto canvas to mimic the physical characteristics of water. I wash dark solvents over the breadth of the canvas to create a filmy barrier over sunken gestures. By tipping and turning the surface plane, I watch the character of paint as the colors blur. I assume the role of audience as well as artist, and bear witness to pure color communion. I nurture the environment on the surface of the canvas, giving the paint a habitat in which to thrive. If I have a plan for a painting; a visual endgame—I often deviate from it—to let something unimaginably wonderful happen. Indeed; unplanned pregnancies happen all the time.
When I am closer to confident in their chemical configuration, I let them outside to oxidize, and greet the sun and sky. My canvases weather the elements as they age; naked and bare in the yard. They are exposed to others’ eyes; collecting ash, dust and other natural particulates in their sticky skin. I consider them to be sunbathing survivors. They harden under the glare and grind of the Outside.
When I am traveling abroad garnering experience, I am aware of the awesome, powerful, force of nature which in a moment can consume me. So I desire to consume it. Nature has no desire to consume me, but it can. So I seek to consume land, sea, sublime vistas of endless atolls, islands, and reefs. This is an illness, you see—for I am part of nature, and how can I consume myself? How can I consume you?
In nature; in water—I can forget my body and become aware of the spiritual. My heart flutters from lust, envy, and greed for territory; to humility, pleasure, and gratitude for being alive, and for the opportunity to see lands far from home. I give way to translations of true experience when I relinquish my desires. It’s unnatural, and I cannot do it on my own. I’ve made new symbols for a New World which lingers just below the waterline.
WATER + RIOT + TERRITORY = Treasures that I found through sober encounters with raw and unfiltered experience. Stand by as I battle my ego which absorbs my own light. Disaster is a landmark; they have made shipwreck of their faith. She calls out a warning: don’t let your true life pass you by. Paintings encourage you to project your ego onto their face, but I wish their own light to shine, bright.
Ovalle, Dominique, "Water Riot Territory" (2013). CGU MFA Theses. 64.