Highly influenced by Surrealist and Metaphysical art, as well as the work of the photographer Diane Arbus and American artist Matthew Barney, David Czupryn’s paintings take a visceral vantage point from which to explore the world of the uncanny.
Having trained both as a sculptor and a painter, Czupryn is in a unique position to mind-bendingly explore the potentialities of three-dimensional artworks as represented on canvas. Indeed, an integral part of his practice consists of reinterpreting seminal sculptural works from both ancient and contemporary times, translating them into the extremely flat surface of his masterful layer painting technique.
Neophytes pays homage to Capricorn by Max Ernst, a sculpture the artist created when he first migrated to the USA. The work, now exhibited in museums as a bronze, was originally fashioned out of found materials such as milk bottles and then cast in concrete and scrap metal to sit as guardian in front of Ernst and Dorothea Tanning’s tiny house in Arizona, US. It represents a Holy Family of sorts, with a King, Queen and a rather unclear smaller ‘Child’ figure, thought by Tanning to be their dog, as the couple didn’t have any children of their own.
Czupryn’s inventive eye for materials recreates the sculpture in an intersium of different qualities of marble and wood, while introducing a disquieting aura of hostility to this originally protective, almost totemic sculpture. Indeed the King, instead of a welcoming lap, features the studs typical of hostile architecture, with splintered glass bottles on the floor and his face vandalised with spray paint. This dark reinterpretation makes one consider the fate of migrants today as compared to that of Ernst and Tanning’s times.
A spark of hope is however present: the neophyte plants that, not present in the original sculpture, instead populate Czupryn’s painting are in fact a reminder that even foreign bodies can adapt and thrive in non-autochthonous environments.