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Flattening Sublime

Jun 19, 2013  ·  2 min read

 By Sharne Wolff


A few weeks ago a Tweet out of New York read “Mid-Century Modern Architecture on Acid” and added a link. Taken from the headline of an online article about Paul Davies, the international interest was evidence of how far this artist’s reputation has spread.

Davies’ images are derived from an original fusion of street art, photography and painting. He first takes photographs of houses in the built environment. Next, a stencil is made from the photographs and cut out diligently with a scalpel. The final picture often results from a collage of several images that Davies paints onto linen with acrylic paint.


Fascinated by the straight lines and block form of Modernist style buildings, colourful portraits of abandoned houses and empty swimming pools have been Davies’ trademark. Several examples influenced by a recent residency in Paris appear in Flattening Sublime. In some paintings tall palm trees, typical of Modernist landscaping, ‘interrupt’ these cool urbanscapes. In others, Davies’ branches out (oops!) and incorporates towering gothic-style forests that ‘invade’ the pictures with their overwhelming presence. In Cathedral and Cathedral invert Davies transposes stencils to form a symmetrical temple constructed straight from nature. By allowing the trees to seize power, Davies’ brings the idea of the sublime, a kind of ‘pleasureable terror’ closer to his work and presents the viewer with an opportunity for different narratives. With the churches of Paris featuring in number of the exhibition’s drawings perhaps we’ll also see a few more curves in time.


Until June 23

Olsen Irwin Gallery, Woollahra

Olsen Gallery Website

Pic: Paul Davies Columns 2013, acrylic on linen 122 x 152cm. Courtesy the artist and Olsen Irwin Gallery.

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