David Madzo, born in 1954, grew up on a ranch in Medora, North Dakota, in the German immigrant community of southwestern North Dakota. About it he says, I'm from a divided household: German Catholic and agnostic. We call it renegade Catholic. This blended background continues to surface in his paintings fifty years later.
Madzo, a voracious reader of contemporary fiction, is attracted to the 15th and 16th century mystical realists. He is also drawn to the turn-of-the-century painters who specialized in social and Christian symbolism. Given the artist's entanglement with myth and mysticism, archetypes such as the hermit, the fool, the monkey, the searcher, the martyr, and the winged woman dominate his paintings. Madzo explains, As with many other painters, I am also inspired by reading, positioned somewhere between the word and theimage. I have a painting of a brown bear which started off with something I read about Cortez attacking and burning the castle of the Incas and then I read in the newspaper about the bear in Sarajevo which was the last animal in their zoo. The people did not have much food but they still brought scraps of food to feed this bear, which came to represent the struggle of their culture to survive.
David Madzo is a technically accomplished painter. He handles pigment, washes, and glazes like a master, according to North Dakota Museum of Art Director, Laurel Reuter. Using thinned acrylic, he builds up layer after layer of transparent washes, the surface made rich with both under- and over drawing. The winged angels in this auction were created with washes of acrylic paint on paper, as opposed to board or canvas, common supports for his paintings.