Artist’s Statement


Play of Wakefulness

These paintings explore the marvelous physicality and uncertainty of encaustic – the ancient medium in which pure pigments are embedded in a blend of natural beeswax and tree resin, which is solid at room temperature but flows as paint when heated above 170 degrees. The same heat that melts the paint produces currents in the molten paint that move and carry the color in natural but unpredictable patterns. The artist dances to this movement, placing the heat of a torch or heat gun to steer the currents, pulling it away when the paint is becoming the desired image: but as the wax cools it eddies into a new formation, and the artist can again choose whether it is done, or stirs it up again.

In the current series of paintings, I’ve experimented with mixing a range of other materials that can ride in various ways with the wax, each producing its own kind of marks as it disperses with the molten wax: shellac, sumi ink, oil pastels, paint markers.

The teachings that give rise to these paintings offer paths of wakefulness that invite us to gently let go of attachments to past and future, allowing us to fully engage our awareness in each present moment. The paintings are a contemplation of the profound teachings I have received in years of study in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage: that in letting go of our fixations, we can experience the spaciousness of awake mind, which is available to every one of us from beginningless time: we can be effortlessly borne on the wind of wakefulness. We can come to rest in the groundlessness of the basic space of phenomena.

“We stop holding on to our habitual idea of ourselves and relax into the openness and clarity of space . . . emptiness not just as a negative condition, but as a positive one. The void naturally and spontaneously manifests as the universe, with all its marvelous and varied phenomena. Existence may not be real in the way we have always imagined, but it is real in a far more wonderful way, as the play of wakefulness. . . Emptiness is inseparable from luminosity, the creative power of awakened mind.” – Francesca Fremantle, Luminous Emptiness.

Barry Margolin

June 30, 2017

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