In addition to being populated by dancing skeletons and severed heads, the artwork of Daniel Martin Diaz contains a surprisingly voodoo-esque appeal, imagery that reaches several centuries back and incorporates contemporary steampunk that could be classified as dreampunk.
Inspired by Byzantine iconography, alchemical sketches, 16th-century anatomical engravings, votive offerings, and retablos (Mexican folk paintings with religious themes), the Tucson-based artist is also strangely illuminated by ironic, macabre humor. Latin texts included in many of his works lend an anachronistic flavor that emphasize an ominous atmosphere of the arcane and esoteric. Using oil on wood, graphite, and linoleum, Diazs paintings glow with a numinous quality, managing to be both warm and foreboding, the way some dreams appear in ones groggy memory on first waking. For example, themes of suffering, mortality, and dread combine with visions of the afterlife -- spiritual beings stand facing the viewer amid strange symbols with inscrutable, non-narrative resonance.
Diaz, who's had commissions from Rolling Stone, PBS, and Atlantic Records, among many others, avoids the potential for pretense, conjuring a part-playful otherworld.