The paintings and sculptures of Springfield Gardens artist David Wilson are not literal interpretations of reality, but rather puzzles filled with images and metaphors that allude to history, the Bible, mythology and his own childhood on the island of Dominica in the Caribbean. To deceive the observer into perceiving what he calls “an alternative reality,” Wilson said he places in each picture “juxtaposed mnemonic objects” which represent the ideas he is imagining.
For example, Wilson admits he’s had a fascination with Leonardo DaVinci’s “Mona Lisa” ever since he was a boy. He has painted his own interpretation of this masterpiece that can bewilder and amuse the viewer at the same time.
“I discovered hidden images in the Mona Lisa that haven’t been seen by any other art historians. They’ve highlighted the area but never indicated what was supposed to be seen,” he explained. “If you follow the outline of her neck and chest, one can see a kitten. The shadow beneath her nose, I see a gondola and there’s a river meandering in the landscape which looks like a snake. If you look over her left shoulder, you’ll see the outline of a dog.”
Once Wilson discloses the pieces to the puzzle, the viewer can see the painting from a different perspective. Sometimes his placement of objects can elicit a few chuckles as in his sculpture, “Apotheosis of Ichthus,” which shows a fish caught on a line jumping out of the water creating the face of a man. Incorporating his own Catholic faith into his work, Wilson said that Christians often refer Jesus Christ to the fish symbol of Ichthus.
To the observer, all of these allusions can seem overwhelming, but throughout Wilson’s life, he has never had an idle mind. Growing up in Dominica, he loved studying art and credits his mother, Leoma, for encouraging his imaginative painting style of an alternative reality when she told Wilson and his brother that “Italy was kicking Sicily,” referring to the nation’s boot-like shape on a map.
For his studies, Wilson traveled to the United States, where he received a bachelor of arts degree at York College of the City University of New York in Jamaica. While his degree has enabled him to work as a public school teacher in Queens, Wilson has continued to paint and visit museums in New York, London and Paris for inspiration.
Besides finding opportunities for an education and a career in America, Wilson has also discovered the resources here to learn about African-American history. Some of the subject matter he has painted includes Civil War-era abolitionist Harriet Tubman, the racially segregationist Jim Crow laws and the first African-American president, Barack Obama.
Having created more than 400 pieces of artwork during the past 38 years, Wilson, 57, is now looking for a place to exhibit his paintings and sculptures. “My house is just jam-packed with paintings,” he said. “That would be the better avenue, if I could get a space where I could invite the public in and try and sell art. It may be an ambitious idea, but that’s where I would really like to focus my energies.”
©2011 Community News Group
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