Nathan Cartwright is a Los Angeles based, mixed media artist whose impressive sculptural paintings have received international attention in recent years. He is also the acclaimed founder/curator for The Hive Gallery and Studios, in downtown Los Angeles (founded in 2005), and is known for curating large festival style shows around the country.
What drives Cartwright’s work is his belief that there is no more important odyssey in life than that of self-discovery. The viewer’s process of discovery is a metaphor for this artist-shaman’s long practiced journey into the dark depths of the “self”. The artist believes that hunting, taming and cultivating a personal mythology is one of the most important aspects of a healthy, creative and full life.
“My work is a personal mythology about the importance of living an authentic life, keeping an open mind and having fun as a creator. I often incorporate “happy face” characters into my mythology. These characters I call “The Man”, and are symbolic of humans residing in a sleep-like state. The simple happy faced humanoid characters are emoticons. Devoid of core truth, they represent mankind existing in an unawakened, inauthentic state. My sculptural paintings map the process of “The Man” evolving from sleep to an awakened state through stories of adventure, success, failure, death and rebirth. To express the temporary state of all things, I depict eastern and western deities destroying “The Man” whose sole purpose is to gain money, power and then die.
In other scenarios, my characters experience an “awakening” to their true selves: taking off their masks, or their preconceived and media-created ideas of themselves. Different levels of “The Man” are symbolized by various states of awareness: A “happy face” character with a business outfit symbolizes sleep; a farmer’s outfit symbolizes slowly waking up; walking into the dark forest represents waking up and becoming a hero; and a maskless character equals being awakened and engaged in the creative life.
This new series, ‘Excursions Beyond the Cosmic Veil’ is about transformation and growth. Alongside the transmuted sculptural reliefs, I have included the sketchbook drawings that reflect my process. Saturated in alchemical symbolism and personal mythology, I challenge my viewers to take a plunge into the darkness, to fight mythic titans, and to emerge victorious with a treasure chest filled with gold.”