Stephen Anthony Davids London, United Kingdom
My work is best known for its distinctive drawing graphic style and works that are made from found objects and wood. Reoccurring themes and thoughts pervade my storytelling capturing humorous views of the world and observations of daily life, masculinity, race, class and social history. Whilst drawing is at the centre of my practice I work across an exclusive range of media including sculpture.
Stephen Anthony Davids’ work unties two elements: on the one hand, his paintings are immediate, personal expressions, the result of a compulsion to make work in the moment. On the other, they are also cumulative, amounting to an interrelated body of work that is almost like an archive: an accretion of artistic, cultural and historical material manifest in paintings on wood, canvas, paper and found objects. Solitary figures are his primary subject, and his focus is on the face and especially the eyes as a vehicle for communication and expression. However, these works are not simple portraiture; they tell a story, and a complex one at that, with meaning coded through multiple layers. In the first instance, the figure itself may be a reference to, or representation of, a specific individual, real or imagined. At the same time, it representation of a facet of himself- his feelings in the moment of painting, his personal interests and history: all his figures wear his gold tooth. Alongside depicting individual characters and experiences, these figurative works also tell collective stories. References to music, film and poetry are woven in by means of the figures’ clothing, in the titles, on occasion through the inclusion of text within the image. G-funk, jazz, the Harlem Renaissance, Blaxploitation films, Maya Angelou’s poetry are all points of reference and inspiration. Black culture and history in London and New York, and working class culture and history in East London are also coded into the works. The legibility of these references is all dependent on the viewer. As the artist states, all the various meanings and expressions are there in the work, but the viewer is required to observe, to consider, to interpret. There are multiple layers to unpick.