Delaware artist lives the surreal life

They say family changes a man. When artist Damon Pla had kids, he needed to change his day job painting murals and move into the studio, now his work has taken a surreal turn.

Damon Pla moved to Delaware from Florida about 14 years ago. He made his living painting murals for private and business clients. But family changes a man, and when Pla had kids of his own he needed to be around more. “So I started creating more paintings, more tangible items rather than working out on the wall at times,” Pla said.

He began painting a lot of landscapes, and he still does. The one cohesive element in most if not all of the works is the late afternoon light. That’s when Pla says, “We’ve got to stop for a minute to take a look at it.”

Pla tries to capture that mood in his work. “As soon as the sun is hitting whatever scape it is I’m good, I’m ready,” Pla said. He doesn’t just see a bright blip in the sky, to him it’s a “great force” behind what he is seeing.

His landscapes and seascapes are beautiful, but it’s the surreal work that is Pla’s true passion.

“I actually was struck by Salvador Dali in my teen years and loved to draw that way,” he said. It was the painting of the murals and his landscapes that gave Pla the confidence and skill and technique to apply the acrylic paint to his surreal works.

How does he describe surrealism? “They’re more of an idea that it’s just a moment, it’s so jumbled up that I don’t cast judgment on it. I actually just take it in.”

When he looks at his surreal work, Pla needs to try and figure it out in his head, “What’s going on here?” He likes that silent conversation. “That moment that we can take from anything, is what I hope that people will take from my work.”

But how does he come up with those images? “Things will just come to me, you just grab them out of the air.” Pla turns to a painting of a steam train emerging from a barn, not from tracks, but floating in the air. “Why? Because that’s not ever going to happen.” If it were to happen, he would just take the scene in. “It would just be like a dream, you just view it, you are the observer, nothing else”.

Pla further describes his as work as a crossing of his senses, “That’s what that painting sounds like, or that’s what this painting feels like”. He wants to tell stories with his work and he wants to tell the entire story in just one painting.

What first captivated Pla when he saw surrealism for the first time was that it was a story that “you didn’t even have to read. You just sort of, enjoyed it”.

Whether you see his work in his gallery or at an art show, he wants it to stop you, “Just make them completely pause, like, hold on a second, I’ve got to figure this out.”  

You can get more information on Damon and his work when you visit him on the web.

 

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.