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The Inside Stories of David Masters
Douglas Max Utter

The painter David Masters reconstructs samples or fragments of rooms, including near life-sized maquettes of fractured walls. These function as synecdoche for whole houses and areas of personal experience as Masters recreates sensory episodes from his own pas… Read More
The Inside Stories of David Masters
Douglas Max Utter

The painter David Masters reconstructs samples or fragments of rooms, including near life-sized maquettes of fractured walls. These function as synecdoche for whole houses and areas of personal experience as Masters recreates sensory episodes from his own past, vivid memories triggered by place, coded into the colors and textures of domestic life. Ultimately Masters explores thoughts about surface and substance and spirit, about the interpenetration of experience and form and the mechanisms of perception that form the basis for art making. Inevitability his works, often fashioned from materials found at thrift stores or at Habitat for Humanity Re-stores, embody a broad range of societal concerns as well, as they consider the traumatic conditions of change.
Masters’ larger construction/paintings sometimes represent sections of flooring -- rough-looking fragments that might almost have been hauled to the studio or gallery directly from a demolition site. “There's Truth Beneath the Floorboards” presents a crumpled mass of painted canvas bubbling up through close-laid planking made from repurposed strips of lathe. It describes repression, but also the forceful, essentially hopeful nature of the creative act. From a formal perspective the work reconfigures the basic components of any painting on stretched canvas. Such fluid, dream-like overlapping of function and investigation, of past and present, is typical of Masters’ three-dimensional collages, which typically include windows or other openings, leading the eye and mind up to and then away from the conditions of daily life. Masters’ work is built in a place between worlds, re-inventing the immediacy of past events, even as it recedes toward the condition of art.

David Masters received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his MFA from Kent State University. His current body of work has grown out of a life-long interest in the intersection of imagination and DIY construction. When he was a boy he built a roller coaster across a couple of acres of his parents’ property. As a student in Chicago he interned as a set designer with a theater company. The scenarios he sketches now with his recycled and scavenged materials have a native flavor of reality about them, but also a taste for fantasy, hovering between fondness and nightmare, remembering and deliberate forgetting. These are places torn loose from context, that recall a world and a state of the self ruined by time and circumstance. Yet Masters’ fragments can also be seen as the cornerstones of a new understanding, based on a recognition of the importance, and the indelibility, of times past in their relation to the rapidly changing present.


- Douglas Utter Read Less
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