Editorial: Article in Evolver Magazine
Painter Philip Davies is on a trajectory, one that has lasted most of his lifetime; Yorkshire - Royal College - London – John Moore’s Prize exhibition- Somerset. In his latest body of work he has revisited past territory reconsidering perennial concerns. These new paintings are large and the girl featured in many of them in her heavy hiking books is entirely a figment of his imagination, a fictitious muse who he says leads him, he knows not where. Hence, the title of the show, ‘Where to from here?’. Davies’ work is rooted in his understanding of paint, exquisite hues haunt the flat backgrounds of his paintings, determinately matte and beautifully modulated. The narrative provided by the figurative element could almost be incidental to this subtle palette of earthy colours. But they are interdependent: the solid structure/dwelling with one door and one window hovering centre-canvas, a cacophony of rooks perched on branches, vessel-shaped trees, oversized black pansies are the product of intense interior musings and of his wanderings through the Somerset countryside.
These paintings touch on reality but subvert it. They could be abstract but Davies leaves sufficient visual reference for identification, giving a way in to his thought processes but leaving other minds free to wander around these works, to make their own connections. All his observations are absorbed into the melting pot of his mind and re-emerge with an element of biography and frequently of humour. Scale is important. Leaves vie with bird forms for the same amount of pictorial space, huge pansy heads reach up to and beyond the ceiling edges of his large canvases and are rooted at the lower edge by solid three-dimensional leaves. The delicacy of paper-thin petals, almost too heavy for their weedy stems and the negative associations of the word pansy are firmly rebutted by the scale and monumentality of the painted flower.
Where to From here? An exhibition of paintings by Philip Davies at The Brewhouse Theatre and Arts Centre Taunton from 23 th March to 5 th May.
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© Fiona Robinson 2018