Last month, I stumbled across the work of Australian artist Paul Davies, who takes a unique approach to portraying mid-century modern architecture. Given our recent interest in art collecting here at the Eichler Network, it seems like a good time to take a look inside the process of one young artist making works driven by the very structures we all find so fascinating.
Davies depicts mid-century modern homes and other buildings that he finds primarily on trips to America and Europe. But instead of setting up an easel and painting what he sees, Davies takes a series of snapshots and then produces his work as a sort of collage, in a studio, filtered through his own sensibility and surroundings.
“I’ll find a place by accident and take a lot of photographs. When I come back from those trips in Europe or the States and bring those images back to the studio and work on them here, it’s a controlled environment where I can collage a house from one location, a landscape form another, or a swimming pool in another… I’m looking at ways of collaging or fragmenting these images to create a new utopia here in my studio.”
For example, as with the 2011 work Beverly Hills House with Jervis Bay Trees, shown here, he portrays a home he finds in Los Angeles, surrounded not by the local palm trees but by foliage native to New South Wales. “It’s a way of understanding where our inspiration comes from,” Davies told me. “The modern architecture is simple and bold and looking to the future, but it’s also a way, as an Australian, to look toward Europe and America to create our identity.”
The "utopias" Davies creates by taking elements from the various parts of the world mirror the way Australians (and really everyone) create their culture and reality out of a collage of experience and outside influence, he says. "In Australia, there are suburbs, especially in Queensland, that are named after places in Europe or America. They’re really looking at your culture and at European culture from a distance." And the result, for this artist, is a new way of seeing these familiar structures.
Davies’s paintings can be seen on his website, and he sells them in the Unites States through the gallery Heather James Fine Art, in Palm Desert. He talks more about his background and his process in this interview with the Hong Kong Tatler: