Jack Davidson’s paintings are humble, from their mid-scale size and lightweight stretcher bars to their enigmatic lowercase titles. The paint handling is purposefully inconspicuous, like the uninflected voice of a realist novelist. Davidson wants to show what happens when a painter refrains from using all the jaw-dropping tricks we associate with paint. No sfumato or chiaroscuro, no pentimenti, no scraping, squeegying or thick repainting, no veiled glazes or mimesis. Just shape, line, and color. He puts the paint on the canvas with little fuss. Davidson has a minimalist’s restraint: he doesn’t want to transform the paint into something other than what it is. Yet the color is pronounced, hovering between bold seventies graphics, eighties pomo design, and Easter pastels.
[Image at top: Jack Davidson, i want to lead the sporting life, 2014, oil on canvas, 45×63.75 inches.]
A longtime resident of Barcelona, Davidson has said that his images are snippets of things he’s seen, and the images and shapes do look somehow familiar – a book cover here, perhaps an old logo there. But ultimately they are unrecognizable. In part, that is because the cropping and simplification of form deprive them of context.
and attains an admirably broad array of imagery. His quirky
combinations of shape, line and color yield a charming, playful
awkwardness, as if he’s quoting passages from more expressive paintings. Taken as a whole, the exhibition subtly evokes the disjointed, shallow experience of our internet-obsessed everyday lives. Davidson’s main achievement, however, is that
he makes moving, vibrant and inventive paintings using the simplest of
techniques and materials, proving that paint alone can still bring it.
“Jack Davidson: love, mistake, promise, auto crackup, color, petal,” Theodore:Art, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. Through April 12, 2015
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