Michael Davis, Drawings


By:michael john davis
Fat Face
Charcoal on Paper
25" x 19"

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Michael Davis, Drawings

I like to think of my work as studies.  A study assumes an immediate, minimally planned attack with a very limited idea of a particular result. There is also an idea of a study as an intense examination of a subject that may lack finish. In my case, this label has nothing to do with the actual time I spend on a particular piece.   Painting and drawing for me is about externalizing my state of mind during a certain stretch of time - that time can be the period I work on a given piece or the time when the piece takes on its own personality. The painting or drawing is a physical record of my internal world, both conscious and unconscious.  In my case, I think the conscious attempt to render a subject convincingly enables me to let my unconscious do its work with minimal editing and interference.  I draw or paint until I recognize something pressing and felt.    Since my medium, a piece of charcoal for example, is connected directly to my hand it is almost impossible to lie. The physical act of a marking on paper can't be faked. If it is unfelt or uninterested it will show. If it comes from a deeper feeling that will show as well. If I'm timid or if I'm bold will all be obvious in the work.    At the core of my work is an attempt to create an ambiguous space that can only exist in two dimensions.  I incessantly search for a ways to avoid placing my subject in a defined space or place and try to invent images that create their own space as I go along.  A large part of this process involves my playing with my own expectations regarding what is usually foreground and background (The age old figure / ground problem).  In arranging my images, I strive to create an unpredictable and surprising space for the subjects to live, one that is constantly moving and in which elements of a subject can shift forward or back, even though they are placed more or less in expected or “correct” positions vis-à-vis each other.  If I succeed, then I get a result full of surprise reversals.   While working I look for a way to give the images the appearance of volume without defining a static place in which to place them.  I avoid well-defined two-dimensional depictions of space, such as a room or defined landscapes and instead search for a way to give my subjects a space that feels to me like I’ve set them free from three-dimensional restraints and gain for them a freedom that can only exist in a two-dimensional world. Searching for a way to achieve this ambiguous place is a big part of my struggle to resolve a piece.  My yearning to draw images not limited by defined places with static boundaries is my attempt to mirror my imagination in the outside physical world. I paint until I recognize that place in my imagination that is always alive, active and dynamic, a place I associate with the loose boundaries of a study.


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New York City/United States