The actor and musician Tom Waits, shares:
“Everything is explained now. We live in an age when you say casually to somebody ‘What’s the story on that?’ and they can run to the computer and tell you within five seconds. That’s fine, but sometimes I’d just as soon continue wondering. We have a deficit of wonder right now.”
If there was one word I’d use to describe the primary theme running through my Magic Realism art, it would be ‘wonder,’ I want people seeing my art to have their imaginations engaged about what any particular work might signify. From when I first started creating visual art, I’ve used drawing and painting to tell a story. Images became my symbolic language to share what I was thinking and feeling at any given point about myself and the world at large. I use allegory to translate those emotions into my paintings that become vignettes, or snapshots of a larger narrative unfolding.
I was born in Mexico, where the literary tradition of Magic Realism is prevalent. And I attribute my own rich imagination to reading those novels, as well as devouring every fantasy and sci-fi book I could find while growing up. In reading about characters and scenes that do not exist, I was forced to imagine what they may look like. It’s my belief that our third/inner eye is very much a muscle that the more we use the stronger it becomes.
Early on my work tended to reflect social and political themes, but lately my inspiration is metaphysics, spirituality, life as a lucid dream, the malleability of our universe; these are the things that interest me on a deep level.
I believe that our lives are not preassembled, or dictated by the whims of a divine creator (though I do have my version of God), nor is what happens to us random. Our personal experiences unfold based upon our beliefs, desires and expectations. We were created to be creators – in the image of the Divine – and that physical reality as a structure is designed for us to mold and form into whatever we choose to experience at any given time. Physics is now proving many of these metaphysical concepts to be true. My path is to consciously master this way of being, and so naturally those ideas come through in my art.
I often use birds, feathers, clouds, and floating elements in conjunction with landscapes and stones as metaphors for heaven versus earth, physical versus spiritual, waking versus dreaming life. Courage, joy, playfulness, and living a fulfilled life are all overriding themes as well. Alan Watts said it well: “Man suffers only when he takes seriously what the Gods made for fun.” This sentiment is the launching point for most of my works.
My wife is also a common recurring element as a model in my works. She is responsible for me returning to painting after a long hiatus and moving toward becoming a full-time successful fine artist. In the truest sense of the word, she is my muse. She is also gorgeous and graceful, and I love looking at her. So she has become my natural (and inexpensive) choice for a model. She is the model for the cover image “Sanctuary” as well as the painting shown above in this article titled “Morpho.”
When I was courting my wife, I created a music playlist to show what great taste I had. One was a song covered by Sting called “She Walks this Earth.” There is a line in it that says: when she walks by I see a wave of color/moving like an angel/trailing butterflies. It has become one of the theme songs of our relationship, and I’d since wanted to paint my interpretation of it. Now 14 years on, we have a second home in Costa Rica, where Blue Morpho Butterflies float across our patio, and Guaria Morada, the country’s national orchid flowers grow. In the time we have been together I have seen her transform and heal and evolve in profoundly beautiful ways. So, this is what came forth from all of those elements.
I also tend to explore themes of innocence and child-like wonder. Why we lose it and how we can retain it as adults. My painting “McKena’s Bittersweet Departure from the Island of Happiness” is one that speaks to this concept. The narrative written to accompany the art is as follows:
The Monkey King, with a sad knowing in his voice, spoke softly into McKena’s ear. “It’s time for you to leave us, child.” McKena, with her eyes already fixed on the boat coming to take her to the Land of the Grown Up, said absentmindedly, “but I’ll be back soon, OK?” “Perhaps,” replied the king. But he knew it would be many years, if ever, that she would return. There would be purpose for her in that new world. But when she forgets to play and use the gift of imagination, the going will likely be hard. “Just remember that we’ll always be here. When the day that the opinions of others become more important than your own, and the sadness of living a life where magic has ceased to exist becomes too heavy, and laughter is scarce, this same boat will bring you back.” The others on the island, who had heard the Monkey King’s farewell millions of times before, still always cried at these words. Not for their loss, but for hers. Though they knew that in their dreaming they would still play together. And maybe, someday, perhaps while watching a child of her own become filled out like a sail with her own joy, she would be one of the few to return. Perhaps.
My work is also often in-spired by the writings of others. “The Girl Who Circumnavigated the World in a Dream of Her Own Making” is inspired by poet Patrick Overton’s writing: “When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on or we will be taught to fly.”
As a writer and poet myself, there are also works that come about in collaboration with my own prose. As someone who has worked in Hospice and also been present at many of my own family member’s passings, I’ve also always had an acute awareness of my own physical mortality. Which I personally feel adds to my appreciation of my life and those with whom I am in relationship.
I wrote a poem about the imaginary death of a partner which also became a painting of the same title:
IN BETWEEN HERE, AND NOT HERE
If you were to die before me
I would find a piece of real estate
in between heaven and earth,
in between here, and not here
and build a little house there
like the shelters hikers use on long mountain trails.
A place to spend nights together,
and when you were so inclined,
where you could cradle my new-born sadness.
Out of the storm of my grief,
you would tell me stories,
which I wouldn’t care if you exaggerated,
about why I shouldn’t be in a hurry to follow.
You’d feed me with knowing words
that it’s all OK. All divine.
That you left with everything you came for, and more.
You would thank me
with sweet, coffee-flavored kisses
and stay until the dawn was certain,
until night had poured out the last of its darkness.
When I awoke again
the smell of you on our sheets would confirm
that it wasn’t just a dream.
That you were waiting for us
in the shelter I built
in between here
and not here.
COVER ART: “Sanctuary,” oil on canvas by Paul Bond. Each one of us has a personal sanctuary. It may be a lover, child or parent, home, God, or a combination of these. A place where we are safe to be our true selves without judgement, and free to grow and flower. For me this also relates to the relationship with my wife, who magically appeared as my personal island of sanctuary during a particularly heavy open-ocean crossing.
To see more of Paul’s work, please visit: paulbondart.com
About the Artist
Award-winning artist Paul Bond was born in 1964 in Guadalajara, Mexico, and currently lives and works in San Clemente, CA.
Paul Bond’s art lives in the spaces between dreaming and reality. Drawing from the Latin American genre of Magic Realism, his paintings merge symbolic, surreal and fantastic elements with realistic atmospheres to unveil a world where everything is possible. By juxtaposition and altering familiar objects – mixed with equal parts whimsy, wonder and mysticism – Bond’s works create a world where everything is possible.
Bond’s work has won numerous awards and been featured in galleries, museums and cultural centers, including New Mexico’s Gateway Museum and The San Diego Art Institute. His paintings are now in private collections throughout the US, as well as in Australia, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Corporate collections include 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros & NBC Studios, Royal Caribbean International, Marriott Hotels, Hotel EMC2, Scripps Hospital, and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital; and his works are featured in numerous contemporary art publications.