“I want to transport the viewer to different and unexpected worlds, to another time and place. I try to set the mood and let the viewer’s imagination run free.” says Los Angeles artist, Neal Wagner. One of eight children and raised on a farm in southern Indiana, Wagner, 40, draws from the land itself for inspiration. “I find the most beautiful things are really the simplest. I am in awe of how in nature, the most intricate patterns and colors occur, and try to parlay that into my paintings. I could get lost while looking at the layers of a piece of tree bark or studying the incredible colors in a slab of slate.”
Wagner received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Evansville in Indiana in Theatre and Art, where he concentrated in portraits in watercolor. Moving from the human face to abstract landscape was a natural segue. “My portraits always had this bold impressionist approach where you had to sort of stand back a little to get the whole effect. I always painted people with the thought that their faces were actually landscapes with eyes.”
Neal Wagner's paintings grace the homes of celebrities such as Tyler Perry, Rihanna and Jerry O'Connell & Rebecca Romijn. Three of Wagner's original abstract paintings were used for O'Connell's makeover by interior designer Nate Berkus and featured on the OPRAH show. A pair of Wagner's signature "nest" paintings were chosen by Los Angeles design giant Dodd Mitchell, for his newly renovated A-lister Tropicana Bar Celebrity Suite at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Dodd Mitchell also chose Wagner's "Above Indiana in January" for the model suite at his latest endeavor, The Grand Sierra Resort, in Reno, Nevada. In the 2006 Spring issue of Oprah's O at Home magazine, Wagner's painting, "Indiana Fields" was featured in a spread on a Bel-Air home by architect Paul Williams. Top Los Angeles restaurant and nightclub designer, Tracie Butler, chose 6 Wagner originals to set the tone for the hot new resturant, Parc. For Eva Longoria and Todd English's Beso, Butler chose three of Wagner's paintings.
“In my landscape and aerial abstracts, I always strive to give the piece depth and a sense of history. Growing up, there were all these old signs on barns and along the country roads. They had amazing depth due to weathering the intense Midwest winters. They had a past.”
In addition to painting, Wagner, and his partner Tom Piscitello, own a home furnishing store in Los Angeles. MOGUL, a blend of new stylish contemporary furniture and vintage mid-century furnishings, accessories and Wagner’s original abstract artwork, opened its doors in November of 2005 on the high end design Mecca of Melrose Avenue. Fusing Piscitello and Wagners’ backgrounds of fashion, theater and art gives MOGUL its highly dramatic and sexy look. Wagner & Piscitello also do high end interior design as well as dreaming up new furniture and accessory lines. But Wagner’s ambitions don’t stop there. “It is my dream to have MOGUL and my artwork come full circle and let it be a philanthropic venue in which real life moguls work together to better this planet of ours.” Moguls such as Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Bono, and Bon Jovi have made such strides in ending world hunger and education. They have taken their celebrity and wealth and used it for good.”
Of his frenzied “nest” paintings, Wagner, like his idol Jackson Pollock, works by dripping paint from sticks. “I was drawn to the idea of how just one swirl ripples and grows wider and wider. It reminded me of Oprah and how one person with a goal to help mankind inspired one person at a time to help starving children in Africa. She is just one person with an infectious spirit and look how she is changing the world.”
Wagner has sold many paintings across the globe and continues to explore new territory with his acrylic paints and tools.
FASHION FOR YOUR HOME