Posts Tagged ‘Sir Isaac Newton’

Flickering and Constant

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

T.M. Davy’s second solo exhibition at Eleven Rivington, Candela, continues a series of oil paintings scaled and composed for intimacy.  Smaller than letters written home, the paintings seize upon the candlelight that has illuminated Davy’s recent portraits of friends and family members.  T.M.’s hard, gem-like flame yields haunting visitations, sensual textures, molten contrasts, and coruscating color chords that shatter the monochrome fantasy.  This candle flame simulates the photosensitive ocular interface that orients the individual to others, and it is the unifying entry point among the series.

TM Davy, "Candela (Dad's Painting)," 2013

Candela includes portraits of artist friends, such as Paul Mpagi Sepuya and Scott Hug, and a painting of a work on paper by Melissa Brown.  They also include meaningful surfaces, such as the polished sheen of an acoustic guitar, a backdrop of one of his father’s seascape paintings, and a glass that shimmers in fractal subdivision, as irrefutable as Uccello’s chalice.  Finally, T.M.’s index brings us evocative materials, such as lace given to him by a great aunt, and the orchids, oxalis, and cactus plants that populate his Brooklyn loft.  Contemplating this imagery, a viewer might ponder about cohabitation, family, friendship, origins, and heritage – the concentric layers of the self, expanded.

TM Davy, "Candela (Man with Pipe)," 2013

For example, one special subject appears several times in Candela.  This is Liam, Davy’s husband of two years and mate of more than a decade.  In one of these paintings, Liam looks back at the viewer.  If two souls become one in marriage, then by the rules of psychological catoptrics, Liam is looking back at himself.  But one eye is occluded by the candle.  Is this painting about the eye that unifies the couple?  Or is one eye reserved for autonomy, for the inner layers of the person yet to be discovered?  Meanwhile, the couple’s non-human domestic companion, a housecat named Wyeth, cranes her neck outward; the tufts of her mane bloom like an Elizabethan ruff.  It’s a dignifying meditation on a friend, more than a portrait of a pet.  Does this inclusive embrace extend to the plants, which share the artist’s air?  And the textiles he paints?  Why not, if their fabrics convey the memories of the people whose hands have smoothed them?

TM Davy, "Candela (Wyeth)," 2013



TM Davy, "Candela (Honey's Lace)," 2013

Of textiles, Davy devotes one linen to a gray seascape painted by his father, a well-established mural painter whose tutelage brought T.M. to the present.  Here, T.M. literally depicts “his background,” whereby his father’s output includes landscape paintings and an exceptionally gifted son.

Finally, there are the harmonious “values” that might organize the thoughts of the people woven through T.M. Davy.  First, the glass goblet, like a compound spectroscope, refracts a single candle into its twinkling ROYGBIV array, a spectrum that brings painters under the same tent as cosmologists.  Likewise, the guitar strings embody the Newtonian color spectrum, approximately, and thereby summon Walter Pater’s proposal that “All art constantly aspires to the condition of music.”  Or there’s the wisdom that the painter (and violinist) Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres imparted to his students:

“If I could make musicians of you all, you would thereby profit as painters.  Everything in nature is harmony: a little too much, or else too little, disturbs the scale and makes a false note.  One must reach the point of singing true with the pencil or with brush quite as much as with the voice; rightness of forms is like rightness of sounds.”

TM Davy, "Candela (Blue-Grey Glass)," 2013

In other words, Candela offers the possibility that color alchemy or chord intuition attunes an individual to nature, including familial and social bonds.  Or maybe it emphasizes ways the elemental forces of color and music span generations, just like language and agriculture.  -But is one guitar string missing? Why that one?  Is this missing link a lapse, or is it a promise?

TM Davy, "Candela (Guitar)," 2013

UPDATE: T.M. Davy is also in the group show, “Totally Gay for Sports,” curated by Paul Brainard, at The Lodge Gallery, and he’ll host a book signing at Eleven Rivington on Sunday, January 5th, 5-7pm.  For a profile of T.M. Davy, read this: