Gerwyn Davies

 

Gerwyn Davies is a photographer, performer, digital artist, and costume designer — his artworks defy classification.

 

Words: Emma-Kate Wilson | Photography: Gerwyn Davies

 
Okinawa I , from Gerwyn Davies’  Alien  series.

Okinawa I, from Gerwyn Davies’ Alien series.

 

Art no longer has to fit within one box, it can challenge, question, and inspire a little smirk. Gerwyn Davies shares how fun it can be to watch people struggle with his work, "people are frequently asking permission to smile or laugh, I feel like because it's art they're not able to engage with [the humour]."

It can be easy to see why looking into one of Gerwyn's photographs — his body is decorated in structural defying costumes (like balloons, carpet, mickey mouse gloves). His pose is often paused in movement, like a vignette of a performance. And the background follows this absurd narrative, a poolside, a Japanese Minka, the giant prawn. Gerwyn adds, "it's actually intentionally over the top — it's intentionally excessive and playful."

 
Hedge , from Gerwyn Davies’  Bel Air  series.

Hedge, from Gerwyn Davies’ Bel Air series.

Flamingo , from Gerwyn Davies’  Sunny Boys  series.

Flamingo, from Gerwyn Davies’ Sunny Boys series.

 
I’m really interested in pushing [the art/photography] to its limits, the fake and the fraudulent, as heavily constructed fantasy device.
 
Kobe I,  from Gerwyn Davies’  Alien  series.

Kobe I, from Gerwyn Davies’ Alien series.

 

The sets are all a one-man show, Gerwyn builds the backgrounds, the costumes, and takes the photographs — while also being the model. It comes down to the control of the image, the artworks represent self-representation and how the photograph can act as a fictional device. But the costumes and sets are only ever temporal spaces. They exist for the artworks in a process Gerwyn describes as 'automatic', rather than continuing with any agency post-production.

I enjoy creating fake and simulated spaces in the studios — anything that I can lock myself away in there and, slowly set up through lighting and set construction, building up a fantasy world.
 
Kyoto IV , from Gerwyn Davies’  Alien  series.

Kyoto IV, from Gerwyn Davies’ Alien series.

Adonis , from Gerwyn Davies’  Deluxe  series.

Adonis, from Gerwyn Davies’ Deluxe series.

 

Gerwyn's artworks extend a familiar narrative — in our selfie age, we all know how to set up a camera, a set, and do the all-important "editing." However, as the artist has been exploring in his PhD in photo media at UNSW Art & Design, his work fulfils a camp aesthetic. Gerwyn reflects, "it's nice to be able to really be able to dive into something that has a political urgency." 

The research has allowed him to dig throughout the camp literature to reframe contemporary artists within the playful and energetic aesthetic style. It works partially well in Australia where the 'cultural cringe' and self-deprecation, provide ample content for the camp aesthetics. 

 
Australian artist Gerwyn Davies’ sets are all a one-man show, he builds the backgrounds, the costumes, and takes the photographs.

Australian artist Gerwyn Davies’ sets are all a one-man show, he builds the backgrounds, the costumes, and takes the photographs.

 
The benefit of the PhD, which is a luxury as an artist, is to have an intensive period of time where you can focus on your work — you can pick it up and shake it about, look at it from all different angles and then figure out what it’s contributing that’s unique.
 
Opera , from Gerwyn Davies’  Bel Air  series.

Opera, from Gerwyn Davies’ Bel Air series.

 
You are making a mockery of something, but it’s a very serious kind of gest. You can’t camp about something that you don’t love — that’s what Muriel’s Wedding and Priscilla are all about, visual excess and the characters that they dredge out.
 

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