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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Paintings challenge ideas of religion

    Local painter Daniel Martin Diaz returns to Hotel Congress this evening with the opening of “”Misterium Fidei,”” his latest collection of mystically-inspired paintings and drawings.

    Diaz’s sinister tableaux are populated with gloomy Byzantine icons, Latin inscriptions, and enough esoteric symbols to perplex the most practiced cryptographer.

    Though his imagery borders on the fantastical, it explores themes that are innately human: those of devotion and suffering.

    In addition to more than 50 exhibitions in the United States and abroad, his works have been featured on the PBS documentary “”The Forgetting: A Portrait of Amnesia,”” on the album covers of rock band P.O.D. and on the altar of San Antonio de Padua Catholic Church in Guaymas, Mexico.

    Diaz describes himself as a “”practicing Catholic,”” but his influences come from all faiths, as well as from the obscure realms of medieval astrology, alchemy and the Illuminati.

    “”I like the idea of riding on the threshold of good and bad,”” Diaz said.

    The oil-on-canvas piece, “”Transfiguration,”” depicts a Jesus-like figure in the desert with three bloody arms and a reptilian body, surrounded by gnarled trees with eyes – “”the all-seeing eye,”” he said.

    “”He’s going through some kind of metamorphosis,”” Diaz said of the figure. “”I don’t know exactly what it is.””

    Brimming with ancient symbols and coded meanings, his work fascinates most spectators and puts others ill at ease. Some Christians, in particular, have expressed shock at some of his darker images, calling them sacrilegious or satanic. “”People don’t know where it’s coming from,”” Diaz said.

    Neither does Diaz. For all the buzz his creations have elicited, the painter of 12 years offers nary a pretentious explanation.

    “”The ‘whys’ are what keep me going,”” he said. “”I don’t want to know – I like to keep the mystery flowing.””

    After a long streak of exhibitions in Los Angeles, Diaz said he looks forward to displaying his work in his hometown. “”Doing a show at Hotel Congress is special to me,”” he said. “”It’s nice to be exhibiting here on my own turf.””

    At his reception from 5-9 p.m. at Hotel Congress, 3111 E. Congress St., Diaz will be selling T-shirts and signing cloth-covered, silver-embossed books of his work. Admission is free.

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