Topping off a body of work
A display of artist Lynn Davison's paintings includes a new look, but there are still plenty of expressionist images to be found.
By LENNIE BENNETT
Published October 12, 2006
You expect to see flesh, lots of flesh, in a Lynn Davison exhibition.
New work by the artist at Clayton Galleries includes a wall of people, fully clothed and painted straight-on from shoulders up, wearing an eccentric collection of head gear.
Unlike the expressionist paintings we have come to expect from Davison, these are highly representational, like snapshots, of family, friends and herself. They're fun and maybe good for business if she's interested in taking commissions.
But her best work remains her signature treatment of the human body presented in a rich palette of mottled tones.
And, it should be noted, the way she paints a sheet of plastic. Shelly's Feet is a virtuoso turn, a large painting of feet swathed in semitransparent plastic. It needs to be viewed from a distance at first, then with advancing closeness that allows you to see the colors and brush strokes that combine to make such an illusion. She does the same thing with hands and plastic in Four Ply.
Both show off her technique, and when combined with Davison's eye for the bizarre (think Diane Arbus as a painter), her work becomes singular.
Several paintings use an armadillo carcass as a rallying point for a group of toys. These paintings, with dramatic Caravaggio lighting, have an inmates-running-the-joint wildness and jocularity about them.
Yet another group of heads are painted in oil on paper with the high gloss of oil on wood, the dolorous looks and lurid colors of a medieval Book of the Damned.
And her nudes and partial nudes, with flesh that can mutate from rosy health to incipient putrefaction, composed at odd, foreshortened angles and in odder situations, are titled with amusing quips belying their edginess. That Darned Cat places a man in a highly provocative perch clinging to the trunk of a pine tree, wearing nothing but a shirt and tie. He seems on a rescue mission for a shrouded creature, presumably a cat, whose claw protrudes. What prompted this hilarious and scary scene?
Should Be Mowing Lawn is similarly odd, an innocuous title for a nude man sprawled on a bed looking as if he's in a deep afterglow.
The innuendo and mystery, the fantasy and the fantastical in what and how Davison paints draws us in, teases us. They are like good reads that can't be fully explained or explained away.
Lennie Bennett can be reached at (727) 893-8293 or email@example.com
* * *
"Lynn Davison: New Work" is at Clayton Galleries, 4105 S MacDill Ave., Tampa, through Oct. 28. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. 813 831-3753.
[Last modified October 11, 2006, 12:02:00]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]