Night Gallery is pleased to present 2nd Dark Age, a solo exhibition of new works by Ian Davis. This is Davis’ first exhibition with the gallery.
Davis’ paintings present clean yet cryptic scenes of collective action against backdrops of fantastical industrial wastelands. Riddled with symbolism that is at once highly suggestive and distinctly open-ended, his paintings invite the viewer’s search for narrative clarity but evade easy answers. A group of nude bathers gaze up worshipfully at a dam that towers above them. Salt miners abandon their task to address the black ooze leaking out of their piping. Endless identical rows of filing cabinets sit ransacked in a stately chamber, the culprits (and their motives) nowhere to be found. Davis’ compositions consistently feature enormous spaces filled with repetitive details in graphic geometries – grids of prison cells, rows of empty seats around a proscenium, safety-orange ribbons hanging from dying trees, uniformed workers engaged in the same task. His paintings evoke ambiguous systems, most of them failing. These vignettes conjure the tedium of the slow-encroaching apocalypse, nevertheless revelling in the visual delight that is still to be found amid the drudgery and degradation of present-day industry.
Davis’ tableaus do not amount to ideological arguments but rather to reflections of the unconscious grappling with a moment of overwhelming political turmoil. The artist has described these paintings as scenes of societal perversion; they are macro-scale hellscapes rendered with simultaneous dread and enchantment. Resisting dogma or superficial solutions, Davis speaks to the underlying bafflement of our present day, densely populated and undergirded by sinister structures. In this way, we find the personal embedded within the wide-angle approach of satire, the anxiety of the individual amid the conformist masses.
Ian Davis was born in Indianapolis, IN, in 1972. He received his BFA from Arizona State University. Davis has had solo exhibitions at Josh Lilley Gallery, London; Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, New York; The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO; Acuna-Hansen Gallery, Los Angeles; and Art One Gallery, Scottsdale. He has also been featured in group exhibitions at ltd Los Angeles; The Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, NE; The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art; The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland, KS; and RH Gallery, New York, among others. In 2018, his work appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine. He lives and works in Los Angeles.