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Elise Wagner
Butters Gallery, Portland, Oregon
Recommendation by Richard Speer

Elise Wagner, ''Infinite Horizon,'' monotype, encaustic, color pencil and oil on paper, 16 x 16''.


Continuing through September 29, 2012


Elise Wagner has long combined imagery from runestones and antique astronomical maps in her encaustic paintings. In her latest body of work, "Event Horizons," she focuses on those celestial phenomena: hypothetical points at which matter and light cannot escape the gravitational pull of a black hole. In works such as "Spacetime Compass" and "Infinite Horizon" the artist employs round and ovular motifs, often concentrically ringed, to depict the black hole’s fierce, yawning mouth. 


In "Event Horizon IV" she bifurcates the picture plane with a more terrestrial horizon line, encircling implied nuclei with dark, irregular curves, which suggest orbit trajectories. Glyphs and symbols of multifarious cultural origins posit links between prehistoric Druidic calendars and modern astrophysics. Wagner heightens the anachronism of this approach by scalloping the edges of the paintings, imparting the subtly sinister appearance of singed parchment paper. In her subject matter and technique, the artist links ancient and contemporary sciences, implying that even — or especially — today, the movements and origins of heavenly bodies remain mysterious and, in the case of black holes, existentially terrifying.

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