DODGEgallery is pleased to present new work by Taylor Davis. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition includes sculpture, drawing, and painting.
For Davis, looking is not passive. Through material, language and form Davis makes evident the consequence of looking, ultimately relying on one’s desire to know to set the collaboration between object and viewer in motion. Davis’ work carefully and sometimes playfully denies preconception, and rewards the active viewer with new ways of seeing.
voice-overs, free-standing bent wood cylinders with a sentence or phrase, painted in highly saturated oil paints, spiraling down around the outside surface of the forms, inspire action. Davis writes:
To comprehend the subject of the text, one must read. Reading is different than looking. There’s an end point, a destination, often marked by a period. And there’s someone’s language in your head… With the voice-overs, I’m interested in choreographing an experience in which one simultaneously sees, reads, and walks; eye, mind, and body. Colored shapes on an intricately grained surface, words that form a sentence as slowly or quickly as one walks around and around the object. As one moves on to read the next set of words, one literally loses sight of what one just read... This is not a walk and chew gum moment, it’s a proposal that understanding a thing in its entirety is a difficult, if not impossible, endeavor.
Saucebox, a small double-stacked floor piece is constructed of birch plywood. Open at the top, it has multiple partial dividers that segment the interior space of the form, much like an aperture of a camera. The piece is open-topped inviting the viewer to look inside. The surfaces are marked with what look be painter’s tape torn into strips and shapes that demonstrate the direction of the wood grain. (The “tape” marks are stencils of cobalt blue paint.) This way, that way, up, down, saucebox, over- demonstrates how Davis’ choice of a wood grain’s pattern and direction affects the viewer’s perception of the built form. In other words, by diagramming the grain, saucebox – a self-named self-assertive smarty pants – is over telling us to look again.
One of several works on paper in the exhibition, special language, is a maddeningly difficult-to-decipher drawing of text and shape. Two sentences are painted over a stack of friendly colored mustache shapes. Davis stilts readability by irregularly changing between capitals and lowercase letters, by negating space breaks, and by allowing the edge of the paper to sever letters from their words. She also paints extended lines from the natural end-points of letters creating an odd webbing that connects the entirely of the text as one interdependent visual form. Davis is activating simultaneous looking and reading by drawing language. She is also forcing the action of reading by making the words difficult to decipher yet, still awkwardly readable. Reading the pretentious dictatorial text* as foreground and seeing the colorful and unique mustaches stacked and centered as a reiterating and undermining background, the viewer experiences pattern as form.
* “Men of honor talk amongst themselves Victor, in a special language. I’m addressing you now in that vocabulary.”
* Herman Wouk, Winds of War
Born in Palm Springs, CA, Taylor Davis received her BS at Tufts University in 1985 and her MFA from Bard in 1997. In 1984, Davis completed the certificate program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Davis has exhibited nationally and internationally including White Columns, New York, NY; Austin Museum of Art, Austin, TX; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; and UTS Gallery, Sydney, Australia. Davis was the recipient of the 2010 Radcliffe Fellowship, 2003 St. Botolph Foundation Grant, 2001 Institute of Contemporary Art Artist Prize, 1999 Massachusetts Cultural Council Sculpture Grant, 1997 Milton and Sally Avery Scholarship at Bard College, and 1996 Traveling Scholarship. Davis has been a visiting artist at Yale, School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, RISD, Rutgers, Brandeis, University of Massachusetts, Boston, University of Ohio, Athens, University of Oregon, and SUNY Purchase. Her work has been received in Artforum, Art in America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Davis’ work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the Fogg Art Museum.