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A Moment With | Paul Davies

A Moment With | Paul Davies

We've been on a run these past few weeks with some incredibly talented creatives residing in Los Angeles and today we have yet another to share with you. Australian born Paul Davies recently moved to LA - his current exhibition at Olsen Gallery looks at the links between his new adopted home and his native home. Paul's artwork takes modern landscapes and buildings and turns them into nostalgic works of art combining painting, stenciling, photography and sculpture.

Tim Ross, after portrait of Clive James by Jeffrey Smart  2017, acrylic on canvas, by Paul Davies.

Tim Ross, after portrait of Clive James by Jeffrey Smart 2017, acrylic on canvas, by Paul Davies.

Hi Paul, they me about your current exhibition - when did inspiration first strike? My exhibition at Olsen Gallery looks at the links between my native home in Australia and my adopted home in Los Angeles. 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.”

What is it about mid-century architecture that you find so inspiring? I like the way modern architecture appears both futuristic and nostalgic. The Swiss architect Le Corbusier said that his buildings were 'machines for living in' but this ideal has been in many ways neglected.

“The contrast of future and past is what drives much of my work.” 

Bright colour is a constant in many of your pieces. Why is colour so important to you? Colour is a purely intuitive process in my work, I mix colours and paint them on the canvas in layers. This approach is a way to challenge the subject matter, for example painting the sky green or purple instead of blue. 

Untitled  2017, vinyl acrylic copolymer and acrylic on canvas by Paul Davies.

Untitled 2017, vinyl acrylic copolymer and acrylic on canvas by Paul Davies.

Tell me about your artistic process - how does it evolve from conception to finished artwork? Much of my work begins by photographing historically significant buildings and landscapes. I edit these photos and print the ones I like and pin them up on my studio wall. If I still like a photo after six to twelve months I print a larger version (like the size of a poster) and cut it to create a stencil through which I brush paint directly onto the canvas. I repeat this process by painting through layers of different stencils onto the canvas. The finished painting is a collage of various locations that tell a different story to the original photograph.

Red and White Forest   2014, acrylic on canvas by Paul Davies.

Red and White Forest  2014, acrylic on canvas by Paul Davies.

What have you seen lately that excites you? The Sydney Contemporary Art Fair has been great this year. I'm exhibiting with Olsen Gruin (Tim Olsen's new gallery in New York) and Sophie Gannon from Melbourne. The fair has such a diverse range of work on show and I love the Carriage Works building it's shown in.

What motivates you? I'm mostly motivated by travel, visiting new places and meeting new people.

Horizon Hotel   2017, acrylic on linen by Paul Davies.

Horizon Hotel  2017, acrylic on linen by Paul Davies.

Your work is generally such large scale - what is it about a large format that you find so appealing? The scale I often work in is similar to human height, this allows the viewer to 'step into' the scene.

“Most of my paintings are devoid of people to encourage the viewer to come up with their own interpretation of what’s going on within the building.”
Bronte House   2017, acrylic on canvas by Paul Davies.

Bronte House  2017, acrylic on canvas by Paul Davies.

What are you loving at the moment? Joan Didion's 1979 book The White Album, Thom Andersen's 2003 documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself, E. Charlton Fortune: The Colorful Spirit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, Yosemite National Park which I recently visited on a road trip through California's gold rush region, and Destroyer cafe in Culver City Los Angeles.

What are you looking forward to this year? 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. 

Paul Davies  
August 30th to September 17th
Olsen Gallery

63 Jersey Road, Woollahra, 2025

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