Joshua Liner Gallery is pleased to present Stories From the Other Side of the Bridge, an exhibition of new paintings by the San Francisco-based artist Mike Davis. This is Davis’ first solo show with the gallery.
The suite of eighteen oil-on-canvas paintings takes clear stylistic cues from the Early Netherlandish and Flemish Masters—Bosch, Bruegel, Van Eyck, etc. Each work carries motifs, characters, and settings from one canvas to the next. Across large landscapes and intimate interior details, this shared content creates a community of images, though depicting a community like no other.
Walking fish and die-playing scorpions, gregarious snakes and giant butterflies, and human figures with bird heads inhabit this curious universe, made seductive by Davis’ lush oils and Renaissance palette of reds, ochers, and blues. The paintings depict a world of myth, fantasy, and colliding timeframes, a land “on the other side of the bridge,” but one that resonates with our own—not as memory but as dream.
In The Eighth Road, a boatload of peasant men sleepily contend with an assortment of symbolic challenges - a floating corpse, an enormous egg hatching a human hand, bird claw, and snake. Forward, Not Straight features a skeleton with a birdhouse for a head, paused on a dirt road against a beautifully scumbled sky and scenic, “low country” horizon. In The Other Side of the Bridge, another egg hatches a leg and a cannon amid an oenophilic scene of wine casks, grape-bearing birdmen, ladybugs, and a burning zeppelin in the distance.
In Davis’ imaginative world, the interaction of signs and symbols is a means of communication between species. Ravens bearing letters and pen-wielding ladybugs are not what they seem but what they symbolize, available to the unconscious interpretations of each viewer. But the presence of die, cards, and other games of chance suggests a universe where meaning is provisional, arranged and rearranged depending on the players and fate (with skeletons waiting patiently nearby).
Born in 1961 in Jacksonville, Florida, Mike Davis currently lives and works in San Francisco. Solo exhibitions of his work include Solo Flight at White Walls, San Francisco (2008). His work has been featured in group shows such as Blood Royale, Galerie d’art Yves Laroche, Montreal (2008); Locked and Loaded, Joshua Liner Gallery, New York (2008); We’ll Make A Lover Of You, ArtCenter/South Florida, Miami (2006); and Everything But The Kitschen Sync, La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Los Angeles (2005).
Mike Davis and Heidi Taillefer opening reception (June 4, 2009)