C.J. DAVIS / ONE TWO FREE
November 3 - December 1, 2018
reception: Saturday Nov. 3rd 6-9 pm
gallery hours Saturday 12-5 pm and by appt.
In describing the work of C.J. Davis, the word ‘enigmatic’ may first come to mind. Looking at his work and talking about it can be a frustrating experience, that is if you are hoping for a direct answer. Small, post-minimal objects made with abject materials, coupled with expressive Zen-like paintings on paper, and an occasional framed photo, such as a quirky portrait of a school student. When you ask him for a title, he responds cryptically, with phrasing that sounds as though it were a magical epigram dropped down from heaven.
And then you realize it is all a puzzle, and there is a key to the puzzle, to the conceptual processes, one that takes some work to uncover. That is the nature of his project, to create objects that require the willful participation of the viewer. They are not meant to confound the audience, like other more austere contemporary work, rather they ask you to put forth some effort, to look at the clues and discover the connections that emerge.
On closer inspection, clues appear, such as materials: the small sculptural pieces are made from popsicle sticks, the kind that kids use at school for craft projects (forts/shields). And subject matter: the hidden faces of children, small details emerging, of unique personalities, introspective, hidden from view (protection). Emblems appear in the paintings on paper, abstract and framed formally, mostly eastern in sensibility, the kind that is filtered philosophically through the prompts of modern abstraction (flags). And language: with titles like Saw Sky Horse, or Dig a Tunnel Fill It Up and All the Day You’ll Have Good Luck, that read like playground or nursery rhyme chants (magical).
He is an art teacher, an instructor of kids. He understands the languages, the codes, the creative discourse of the playground, because it so closely resembles his own language, his own codes, his own magical way of thinking.
C.J. Davis grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, moving to Dallas in 2001. Originally, he studied voice and music theory, but returned to school later, earning his BFA in Sculpture in 2012, as a Summa Cum Laude / University Scholar at the University of Texas at Arlington. He has had three solo shows: Calm Manufacturer (2011) at the Plush Gallery pop-up space in Santa Fe NM, A New Kissed Out Red Float Boat (2012) at Plush Gallery, Dallas, and Hang Your Colors Up Inside (2013) at Oliver Francis Gallery in Dallas.