Ian Davis

Posted by Fabio 24 April 2018

For more many years artist Ian Davis has made detailed pictures of men in groups. They are identically dressed in vocational clothes—business suits, lab coats, clerical frocks, hi-vis vests or military drab. They research and design, they assess disaster’s imminence and aftermath, and they amass and protect resources. Despite the outward appearance of purpose, the men are bystanders.

The paintings are executed in clean, graphic acrylic layers establishing vast architecture and nature, then finished with brushy filigree on sometimes hundreds of faces.

Complex, considered geometry tightens the psychological effect of the scenes. Davis’ symmetry is not sacred, or cosmic, but neurological. Geometry here is an overarching mechanism, a loom pulling us into lines like Thomas Baryle’s delirious skins or the atom-bomb angst of Salvador Dali’s late-period ‘Nuclear Mysticism’, where images float as exploded units, in total sync but never to touch. Davis provides actors, location and motivation, the ingredients of a narrative, only to see it overwhelmed and stymied by the all-encompassing strength of an order that man has built for himself. The artist’s compositions hum with a balance that is both serene and unsettling.