fbpx Biennale Arte 2022 | Noah Davis
La Biennale di Venezia

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Noah Davis

1983 – 2015, USA


  • TUE - SUN
    23/04 > 25/09
    11 AM - 7 PM

    FRI - SAT UNTIL 25/09
    11 AM - 8 PM

    TUE - SUN
    27/09 > 27/11
    10 AM - 6 PM
  • Arsenale
  • Admission with ticket

Noah Davis’ work was dedicated to detailing contemporary Black American life through a uniquely incisive and often melancholic lens. Recalling an older generation of American artists including Fairfield Porter, Jacob Lawrence, and Palmer Hayden, his work is equally influenced by painters Marlene Dumas and Luc Tuymans’ figuration. Isis (2009) portrays Davis’ wife Karon as the Egyptian goddess of magic in a golden, fan-winged costume. The Conductor (2014) – from a series focused on Los Angeles’ “garden city” Pueblo del Rio – depicts a tuxedoed man conducting an unseen orchestra, verging further into the territory of the surreal. Davis’ keen eye likewise turned toward history: 40 Acres and a Unicorn (2007) references the “forty acres and a mule” that were rumoured to be given to freed Black families at the end of the American Civil War, employing ironic Magical Realism to evoke the bitter disappointment of the US government’s pursuit of waged plantation labour rather than Black land rights. The figure depicted in The Future’s Future (2010) is strapped into what resembles a virtual reality simulator, the leafy plants surrounding him suggesting projections from a digital realm. Despite the tragic brevity of Davis’ career, these works demonstrate his approach to painting as the opening of portals onto memory, history, and worlds beyond our own.

Ian Wallace


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