Whitehot Magazine

May 2008, Taylor Davis @ Fifty-fifty Arts Collective

Installation View, Taylor Davis, 27Greed Snake, 2008

Taylor Davis
Business As Usual
Fifty-Fifty Arts Collective
Through April 13, 2008

“…sleepwalking our planet into the 6th Mass EXTINCTION. Alarmist? Yes, but REALISTICALLY so. This installation attempts to capture this unfolding nightmare.” - Taylor Davis.

Taylor Davis is a soon to be a hot commodity in the art world. Oops, did I say commodity? I meant activist. Davis is by no means an artist looking to strike it rich it the consumer art market. In fact, his first exhibition, held at The Fifty-Fifty Arts Collective in Victoria, B.C., offered a pro-reactive response to any form of excess.

Business as Usual is a large body of work comprised mainly of smaller pencil crayon and/or watercolour works, all of which are neatly mounted in recycled wood and corrugated cardboard, as well as second-hand frames. Each piece draws you in with their bright, unpretentious colour, and keeps you engaged with their nightmarishly pertinent subject matter. The exhibition works to playfully attack the sleepy, socio-economically based society we live in. By combining vibrant colors with impish caricatures, Davis’ artwork acts as an interloper between the unconscious inner child and the socially disturbed power-monger that exist inside each and every one of us.

Davis’ drawing style is very bold and unique. It speaks of the childlike drawings we have all created, but cleaner and much more controlled. The figures and text all have a didactic role in the works, and one can see that although the works are spirited and reminiscent of fairy tales, they hold very strong messages. It is note-worthy to mention that Davis only started drawing about a year ago, and that he is already making his mark as a strong and prolific artist.

 Taylor Davis, 27Greed Snake, detail, 2008

Two particular series stood out from the group. Upon entering, four large drawings of nightmarish horse-men and their captives stare back at you as a single narrative. This series of drawings, H1 H2 H3 H4, falls somewhere between the work of Roald Dahl, and that of the medieval Hieronymus Bosch. Davis’ works has the same tendency toward vivid colors, a mix of gangly humans and demonic figures, an interesting use of space, and a similar narrative feel. By this I mean that Davis’ illustrations are more than just playful and didactic drawings, they can be read as a psychoanalytical expression of an underlying social anxiety. Essentially, through our mass consumption and exploitation of the world’s resources, along with our excessive polluting habits and our tendency to justify all of it via economic statistics, we are cutting off the hand that feeds us. As a species, we are destroying that which feeds and sustains us. What is more is that we are addicted to it, and we don’t know how to quit. A part of our being knows this and responds with a pervasive sense of anxiety, which Davis recognizes and reflects in his work.

Business as Usual is an attempt to bring a sense of awareness to its audience in hopes to inspire an accessible form of change. Davis compliments his illustrations with a personal collection of books that were the source inspiration for the works. The books acted as an offering of recommended reads for the interested viewer.

The second group that really demanded attention was a collection of twenty-seven small drawings on the south wall. The drawings were all cropped from a larger drawing of the self-titled 27Greed snake, yet all could stand on their own. Each small image provoked the viewer to simultaneously smile and cringe, but had content for both toddlers and adults. Davis summarizes it best when he writes, “Greed is an UGLY and CREEPY part of our colorful planet that needs to be exposed and VANQUISHED.”

Taylor Davis is open for collaborative projects and future exhibitions. Contact him at taylorooni@hotmail.com

Stephanie Kellett

Stephanie Kellett is a writer in Victoria BC.

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