Featured Artist David Macaluso

New York artist David Macaluso works in an unusual medium – motor oil.  He explains his purpose in using oil and the statements he is making about society and our world. Find out more about this fascinating artist and his work on his website.  Don’t miss the video on YouTube of David painting for an ExxonMobil commercial, and another video of him painting a portrait of Barack Obama.


I pursue art as a vehicle for discovery and beauty. I find my subjects by listening to my internal and external surroundings and then express that which stirs me most at any given time. The keystone of this process is an examination of states of awareness and the nature of awareness itself. While I recognize the benefit of having a signature style in commercially driven markets, my commitment to “style and genre” is as a means to an end, not a end in itself.

My current work is an ongoing series called Vial Arches.  Building on Roman architecture and medieval art, Vial Arches evokes history to inform the creation of a modern altarpiece devoted to contemporary existence.  This series preserves used motor oil in its liquid state by sealing it in vials, then these vials are configured into arches on panels.  Within the arches are painted portraits whose current subjects are wide-eyed children and hardened terrorists, representing fundamental polarities, yet complex psycho-social realities, alive within our interconnected planet that’s currently addicted to Oil.

I employ used motor oil as both a metaphor for this age in world history, and as means of recycling the substance into art.  As one medium amongst others in my work, I began painting with used motor oil in 2005. At the time I was thinking about ways to capture an essence of contemporary life. Oil is the lifeblood of the global economy whose reverberations reach every aspect of life today and virtually every corner of the globe. I wanted to stamp art with a material residue of this time in history, of my time, and one day I conceived of painting with “car oil.”

Since then my artistic explorations with used motor oil have taken numerous incarnations, from abstract paintings to portraiture to my current series Vial Arches.  In 2008 my series of paintings, Barack Obama: Made in Motor Oil, received international attention; and my work is included in the corporate collection of Exxon Mobil as well as private collections around the world.

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