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Vogue Magazine 16 August 2017

Francesca Wallace

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Australian born, Los Angeles-based Paul Davies is an artist, but it’s his realistic take on the ethereal (oxymoron intended) that takes his work from landscape to dreamscape.  

Drawing from the natural environment, plus the built areas of cities and towns, Davies’s nostalgic take on collages use colour, texture and space (or lack thereof) to create works that make the viewer question their environment — while at the same time providing a pretty picture you could see hanging on the living room wall.

 Now, Vogue speaks to Davies ahead of his solo exhibition at Olsen Gallery in Sydney (August 30 to September 17) about all things art, inspiration and being home. 

 On being an artist

“For me art is important because it can bring people together and create discussion. Apart from travel, the best thing about being an artist is meeting people who give you a new perspective.”

 On inspiration

“Most of my inspiration comes from travel, reading, music and art. I’ve been reading Joan Didion’s 1979 book The White Album and recently saw David Hockney’s retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. These were part of the inspiration for a series of 12 photographic collages I was commissioned to make for permanent display at Soho House West Hollywood. Like Hockney’s polaroid collages my series depict deconstructed scenes that tell a story from different perspectives. The title of my series was inspired by Didion’s book The White Album which is a collection of essays about different people and places in California. The book opens with the line "We tell ourselves stories in order to live” and covers a range of subjects from the band The Doors to the Manson murders, from Hollywood to Malibu. Although these are different stories they give an overall sense of the mood in California at the time.

 I approach painting in a similar way by layering various locations onto the canvas to create fictitious scenes. Like my paintings the series of 12 collages, for me, are both a personal diary of the places I’ve been, as well as, a representation of what the places signify in popular culture.”

 On the best thing about coming home

“The beach! California beaches are great but it's hard to beat the Australian coast!”

 On his upcoming exhibition

“My current body of work looks at the links between my native home in Australia and my adopted home in Los Angeles. In June, I was invited to present a site-specific installation at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture’s Fitzpatrick-Leland House in Los Angeles… The paintings from this installation are being exhibited here in Sydney at the Olsen gallery and feature the Fitzpatrick-Leland House. The title of the paintings is based on Frank Lloyd Wright’s quote ‘Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles’. Here he described Los Angeles as a centre-less sprawl of buildings and billboards and to me this idea can be extended to the multitude of searching souls that land in LA from all over the globe.

 Like loose objects, Australian gum trees are scattered randomly about Los Angeles and, in a way, are a visual link with Australia. I combined this link with the shared gold rush history between Australia and California that happened at the same time the trees were imported and called the paintings Everything Loose Will Land in LA/Double Golden Gully. Golden Gully is a now abandoned gold mining location in New South Wales and I added "Double" to refer to the gamble miners took seeking fame and fortune just as the hopefuls do in LA today.”

 On the future

“I have really enjoyed working on the photographic collages and I’m looking forward to experimenting with these more. I am working on paintings for Soho House Mumbai and Soho House Dumbo New York, and have solo exhibition’s coming up in Delhi at Art District 13 Gallery and New York at Olsen Gruin Gallery. My painting Everything Loose Will Land in LA/Double Golden Gully 4 was recently acquired by the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento and will be on display soon.”



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