Ian Davis’ picturesque paintings of bureaucratic dystopia

19 July 2016
Reading Time
1 minute read

Ian Davis’ paintings fascinate in ritualistic congress, graphically depicted in acrylic with alarming and disconcerting uniformity. These herds and hordes of men are dwarfed by their monumental environs becoming mere ant-like aggregate constituents in a larger social machine. Through careful composition Ian captures a simultaneously endearing and disconcerting surrealism, as their tiny forms gather en masse with rigid geometry.

Habitually facing inwards, away from the viewer, composition heightens their dehumanisation. They reverently inspect authority, commodity and machinery. Titles such as Edict, Patronage and Broadcast thematically links the paintings as part of a whole, congruous dystopian world reflective of our own.

The paintings carry a sense of narrative, obscured and ambiguous by design. His work conveys larger themes: maleness, patriarchy, convention, the uniformity of dictatorial homogeneity. The paintings are picturesque political allegories of bureaucratic autocracy. Seldom active, shown attentively watching and listening, the men are inert bystanders in their sheeplike collective congregation.

Indianapolis-born, Los Angeles-based Ian Davis graduated with a BFA from Arizona State University, and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2005. He is the subject of a new solo exhibition at the Josh Lilley Gallery in Fitzrovia, London. Ian Davis: Expert Advice runs until 13 August.


Ian Davis: Curriculum Vitae


Ian Davis: Subversives


Ian Davis: Patronage


Ian Davis: Climate


Ian Davis: Surgeons


Ian Davis: Gilded Age


Ian Davis: Monument

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About the Author

Jamie Green

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