Out/About: Paul Davies ‘Other Desert Spaces’
Taking the crisp, clean lines of some of the best modernist architecture as his subject it will come as no surprise that the paintings of Paul Davies are popular. So dedicated to his practice, Davies left his hometown of Sydney two years ago to position himself amongst some of the most quintessential examples of this architectural style and set up studio in Los Angeles.
For those unfamiliar with his work Davies creates his paintings by layering multiple hand cut stencils onto canvas. His paint application, often with gestural marks, creates an abstract ground and the perfect tension with the linear characteristics of the landscape and buildings. In fact it is this relationship between the natural and built environments that has motivated Davies for the past decade as he explains, “my work is driven by friction between opposing forces of built and natural environments, design and art, abstraction and figuration.”
This friction is perhaps at its most apparent in this exhibition ‘Other Desert Spaces’ opening in Sydney this month at Olsen Irwin Gallery. Where in previous exhibitions Davies has meticulously created a scene that you feel could potentially exist in the world, this show sees him break down the picture plane and partner seemingly incongruous features, collage-like, on the canvas. Ice-capped mountains loom ominously over a palm tree surrounded pools in the ‘Built Landscape’ series. Here Davies has deconstructed the modernist theme by rotating four stencils around a central axis and thereby fragmented the formal elements that have ruled his previous exhibitions.
Davies also created a series of works on paper on site during a road trip earlier this year that took him through California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Nevada. This work ‘One hour of solstice sunlight’ presents seven repeated mountain landscapes in varying hues recorded using stencils on photosensitive paper. There is a pleasing irony in his use of the stencil, a tool to produce multiples, to create a highly personal reflection of his new surroundings.
It is curious that in an age where Australia’s physical (and therefore cultural) isolation is broken down by new media that Davies’ move to another country has had such a profound effect on his work. It certainly presents a strong case for creatives to take risks with their methods and as Davies returns to the city of angles next week we can’t wait to see what comes next.
Paul Davies ‘Other Desert Spaces’
Olsen Irwin Gallery
63 Jersey Road
Woollahra 2025 NSW
Mon – Fri: 10 – 6
Sat: 10 – 5
Sun: 11 – 5
7 – 25 October 2015