The Card Player
"The Card Player", oil and collage on canvas, approx. 198 x 168 cm
Gemälde und Arbeiten auf Papier
Paintings and works on paper
May 25 - July 21, 2007
Opening speach by Prof. Peter Weiermair
The artist will be present
You and your friends are cordially invited to the opening on Friday, May 25, from 7 p.m.
From the end of May till the end of July, L. A. Gallery Frankfurt, in cooperation with Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art in Melbourne, is showing works of the Chilean-Australian artist Juan Davila. Davila, born 1946 in Santiago de Chile, left his country after Pinochet seized power there. He has been living in Australia since 1974. Like Arturo Duclós, Gonzalo Díaz, and Eugenio Dittborn, Davila belongs to the Santiago School. This year Juan Davila is participating at the Documenta XII in Kassel.
In his works produced since the 1970s, Davila seems to address a number of present-day questions, which are helpful to know trying to understand his complex, offensive, sometimes downright cruel works: Is modernity our antiquity? What is bare life? And: What now? Modernity, where the universal calls for freedom, equality and solidarity as well as the totalitarian catastrophes of the 20th century are complimentary, has not lost its allure. Its forms, hopes and visions, the discourses revolving around "culture" and "identity" live on, long past announcements of their imminent demise. The closure of this epoch continues to be a subject of debate. "It looks like we are both outside and inside modernity." The second question, What is bare life? "is about the total vulnerability of human life. It concerns that part of our existence that no security precaution will ever be able to protect. But as in sexuality, total vulnerability and infinite lust can be disturbingly close to each other. Bare life contains an apocalyptic and unmistakably political dimension, which at its worst spells torture and the concentration camp. It cannot be reduced to this apocalyptic aspect, however, because there is a lyrical or even ecstatic quality to it too - a freedom towards new and unexpected opportunities."1
Among the spectrum of possible reactions to modernity as an art epoch, Juan Davila's work maintains an important position. In many of his paintings he refers to the icons of Classic Modernism and Pop Art; recently, the historical painting of the 19th century has also played a role in his works. His building in immediately recognizable parts of famous paintings into his collage-like works amounts to more than playing with the contents and implications of the quoted, fragmented and then newly combined model-pictures; Davila also aims at the mechanisms of the art market (consumerism being a recurrent theme in his works) and at the reception of certain artists and tendencies in the world of art dominated by the West, which he examines and places in front of a distorting mirror. Doing so, he is always also reflecting on his own position as a peripheral artist, who in an abominable way avails himself of pictures from all areas of visual communication, be it photography or film, pornography, advertising, or established works of art.
One significant element of Davila's paintings and collages is his drawing from a wealth of pictures and motifs - some folkloristic, some archaic, some satirical - connected to his Latin American background. Worlds clash, out of which a peculiar imagery develops; it may be interpreted on a metaphorical level, although the sexualized or mutilated protagonists, offenders and victims of violence, can have such an immediate impact on the viewer that he or she will feel directly offended by the level of aggressiveness.
Davila not only aims at taking a stand on socio-political issues. His works cathartically point out and symbolize the traumas of societies marked by colonialism and violence which he has lived in. Davila translates the violence which he has experienced as existential into his own, also often violent imagery. In "Woomera" (2002-04) he calls for art to work against society's refusal to face up to history and remembrance, and to expose the psychological forces driving these processes.2 He also addresses the question of What now? in his oeuvre, which can be read as a manifesto against consumerism and "over-intellectualism," the only alternative being "aesthetic education."
1 Roger M. Buergel, Leitmotive, December 2005, www.documeta12.de.
2 Juan Davila, Woomera. Reprinted in Exhib.-Cat. Sydney 2006: 182f.
Born 1946 in Santiago, Chile
1965-1969 Law School of the University of Chile
1970-1972 Fine Arts School of the University of Chile
Moved to Australia in 1974. Lives in Melbourne
Artist, Editor Art and Criticism Monograph Series in Melbourne
Davilas works have been presented in exhibitions in internationally renowned institutions like the Frankfurter Kunstverein (Prospect 89), the Biennale of Havana (1991), the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (Cocido y Crudo, 1994), the Chisenhale Gallery London (individual exhibition, titled Juanito Laguna, 1994), the Sao Paulo Biennale (1998). In 2006 the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, dedicated solo shows to Davila's work, accompanied by a exhaustive catalogue. Davila has been invited to participate at Documenta 12, 2007.
Guy Brett and Roger Benjamin, Juan Davila. With Writings by Juan Davila. Exhibition Catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2006.
Russel Storer, Juan Davila. 9 September - 12 November 2006. Exhibition Guide. Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2006.
Rosa Olivares (ed.), 100 Artistas Latinoamericanos. 100 Latin American Artists. Exit Publicaciones, Madrid 2006.
Charles Green, Juan Davila. Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Artforum, January 2007: 269f.
Text: Bettina Schmitt, Translation: Simone Schede
JUAN DAVILA - Paintings and works on paper as pdf-File 2,08 MB
L. A. Galerie Frankfurt
Photographie aus der Kunsthochschule Bremen - die Klasse Peter Bialobrzeski. Photography from the Art Academy Bremen, Class of Peter Bialobrzeski,27. Juli - 22. September 2007
Naoya Hatakeyama: An Incomplete World. Works from the UBS Art Collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 19. Mai - 29. Juli 2007
Peter Bialobrzeski: Global Cities. Tate Modern, London, 20. Juni - 27. August 2007
Oliver Boberg / Naoya Hatakeyama / Taiji Matsue: Spectacular City, NRW Forum Düsseldorf, 26. Januar - 6. Mai 2007
Tracey Moffatt / Mabel Palacin: Bildschirmauge oder Das neue Bild. 100 Videos um die Welt neu zu denken, Casino Luxembourg, 24. März - 17. Juni 2007
Tracey Moffatt: Global Feminism, Brooklyn Museum, New York, 23. März - 1. Juli 2007 // The DZ Bank Collection, Museum Ludwig, Budapest, 26. April - 10. Juni 2007
Julian Faulhaber: Goethe-Institut Hong Kong, Mai / Juni 2007
Liu Ding: Kunsthalle Wien, Project Space, 16. Mai - 17. Juni 2007 // Tiger Universal Studios Beijing, Juni 2007 // Thermocline of Art. New Asian Waves, ZKM, Karlsruhe, 15. Juni - 21. Okt. 2007 // Products. Samples from the Transition, Saatchi Gallery, London Sept./Okt. 2007; Orange County Museum, Los Angeles, Jan. 2008
Juan Davila: Documenta XII, Kassel, 16. Juni - 23. September 2007
Tracey Moffatt / John Hilliard: True Romance - Allegorien der Liebe von der Renaissance bis heute, Kunsthalle Wien, 5. Okt. 2007 - 3. Feb. 2008
L.A. Galerie - Lothar Albrecht
T: + 49 - 69 - 28 86 87
F: +49 - 69 - 28 09 12
L.A. Gallery Beijing
No. 319, Cao Chang Di,
Cui Ge Zhuang Village,
East End Art
Da Shanzi 71# Mail Box,
Beijing 100015, P.R.China