Artist Statement

At art school in Europe I was often accused of my creations being too primal – in part because I love rich, saturated colors, in part because much of my subject matter was related to the remote tropical jungle of New Guinea and the Stone Age tribe I lived with.

I make no apologies for this. I grew up where life was short, brutal, and precious. In the vast sea of green that is the tropical forest, vivid color most often represents new life, whether it be an exquisite orchid, a birdwing butterfly, or the fantastic dance of a bird of paradise. And because this life is fleeting, I choose to portray it in all its splendour.

Encaustic art has captured my soul. While I have always enjoyed oil, and the vast repertoire of technique available to the artist, one of its strengths, to me, is also a weakness. Oils allow reflection, correction, ongoing refinement of the concept. Wax, on the other hand, is like a living being. The physics of a briefly molten solid dictate that no work can be reproduced, and that even after many years of experience, each stroke of a hot iron or stylus is only part skill. There is no second chance in encaustics. An errant stroke, a moment of inattention or indecision leaves the work destroyed. I have to abandon it or recreate it from the beginning.

So I paint from my soul. Through wax I express my deepest feelings; I leave my rational mind behind and briefly guide the color in the hope that I will evoke a spiritual response of sorts. I see earth as a mother, a giver of life. I feel that to truly nurture we have to be cognizant of nature in all its splendour; have discovered some sense of connectedness to the universe we are part of, yet at the same time be awestruck by its vastness.

Our society tries hard to be structured, to be rational. Largely we succeed at this. So I hope my art evokes something primal, something basic, deep and pure.

Judith Kuegler


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