Lucas Davidson works with everyday tools – such as digital cameras, computer software and printers – to explore the fluidity of the photography medium. His works are often expanded into large-scale installations that challenge photography’s traditional conventions and investigate the relationships between digital and physical experience. Davidson’s ongoing interests lie in how digital imaging technologies enable us to see the world in new ways that continually redefine the way we perceive self and reality.
For his new body of work, Davidson draws on the rich history of abstract photography. Photographing his favourite artists’ work from his art book collection, these images are printed onto rolls of paper and placed together on the studio floor to be re-photographed. This collection of works from different histories and cultures becomes a way to compress all the artworks that have informed his practice over the years into a single image.
These works are then enlarged to become installations that reference how we consume art today through the reproduction. Long rolls of paper hanging from the ceiling act like endless streams of information that we scroll through daily on our mobile phones and computers. Davidson appropriates innovative printing technologies invented for unlimited production to interrogate the entire chain of production in art. The final works become a copy of a copy, using contemporary tools to recycle historical narratives back into the world in new ways.
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DANIEL MUDIE CUNNINGHAM ON ‘LEARNING TO LET GO’
“I’ve been reluctant to use color in my practice, and I don’t really know why that was,” explains artist Lucas Davidson of his new work. “I didn’t feel like I had a grasp of colour, so this is a new direction that’s been a long time coming.” Over more than a decade, Davidson has produced a compelling body of monochromatic work that pushes at the boundaries of photography. The impulse to expand the medium led to installation and video and stemmed from “a struggle with photography’s two dimensionality”. Installation granted access and immersion: “I wanted to be able to walk on the material and to be in it and to experience photography in a different way.”
Steadfast in his commitment to studio experimentation, Davidson’s work has consistently sought a form of transcendent pure abstraction made from reconstituted figurative elements. Using readily accessible digital cameras, printers and software Davidson pulls apart the limits posed by photography and its ever-evolving tools. Where his past work has been cerebral and probing in its aesthetic and conceptual propositions, recent directions signal a glorious shift in lightness and mood, achieved via colour.
“I felt that I needed colour in my life because of this reoccurring cancer that I’ve had for the last five years.” As a diversion from the physical and mental pressures of illness and treatment, Davidson would seek avenues of distraction by going to the studio. “It was a part of my day where I didn’t have to really think about my health, and I would become consumed in the work – it was therapeutic.”
But finding colour did not come naturally. Looking through art books from his library was a starting point and inspired a process of photographing highly cropped details of works by his favorite artists. In sampling colours from existing artwork reproductions, the original image became decontextualised and unrecognisable. Once printed they become striking colour fields, like Rothkos for a digital age.
Davidson’s new works speak to the horizon and its capacity to create a state of flow, a freeing up of the analytical mind. “It’s this being in the moment that I’m trying to get back to in a way.” Titling his next solo exhibition at Dominik Mersch Gallery Learning to Let Go, Davidson reflects: “I have been forced to reconsider all aspects of my life and learning to let go was a way to prepare myself for the inevitable that we are all faced with at some point in our life. Learning to let go of a family, art, living, understanding, the list is long.”
– Daniel Mudie Cunningham, 2022
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