Cardboard Paintings

“Donald Traver’s work has ever been infused by a primordial spirit of hyper-naturalism, and almost druidic magic. In the presence of this body of work method and magic reach unity. Symbols, icons, et al have great power. In Traver’s hands the icon becomes a weapon, a tool and an end in itself: a spear to penetrate the psyche, a torch to illumine the field of meaning, cipher of the infinite and gateway to its reaches. 

Traver’s icons: the presences he has summoned into his Solomon’s Circle, bound within this pentagram of the subatomic building up through all stages of the phylogenetic; of work that therein were “signs not consecrated”. In a sylvan laboratory filled with elfin airs Donald Traver now consecrates his signs. Call them icons, they are symbols, yes; signs, yes; greater than the sum of their parts yet making reference to all; they are the things themselves and all those things might ever be. Each of the icons has at the least the dual nature of the materially familiar and the familiarly symbolic.

What is a star for instance: A star is an astronomical body revealing itself only in the light it deigns to send us. A star is also a sun seen at such remove as to place us beyond its effect. A star is at once the truth, the light, the path; and stands for every light and every lantern not made by hand of man. A star is the essence, a star is the center, a star is a replicating agency of the symbolic world, the figure of RNA for the collective unconscious. A star is also the symbol of popular sovereignty and of incorporation into a whole. It could as well be a child’s pinwheel. A star is an icon. It has a fixed, objective meaning and a facile, subjective meaning. It has both a public and private nature which is always clear by its context. It is the smallest of things and the largest of things; it is anything that shines with its own light.

Naturally this does not say what a star is. A star is not such a thing - if it were, it would be no symbol. Is a Starfish a star? The answer would seem to be that it depends how it is painted. In Traver’s hands it is all that a star can be and all that a living creature is. Likewise a sphere; is a sphere an object?, and if so for what purpose?, source of light incandescent?, ball of crystal to aid in prognostication or trickery?, circle of theory?, area of influence?, globe?, this globe? Again, in Traver’s hands and through his eye it is all of these. Each of Traver’s icons works so. For him a cloud is a lump of aerial clay waiting to be fashioned into whatever shape the viewer wishes, often a classical bust or cherub.

The more he lets these iconic beings sport with themselves and each other, the more we who are chained to the mundane progress of the waking world may wonder and smile to see the stuff of dreams come true, come true.

Peter Von Brandenburg