Juan Dávila: The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León
When we think of the history of contemporary Australian art, Juan Dávila is an artist whose work is sorely lacking in popular attention in this country. Perhaps it is because even in 2018 his work positively vibrates with sexuality, profanity and a willingness to commit to paint that which still, ironically, seems provocative. Surely there are no taboos left? Many artists are called agents provocateurs but Dávila is the real deal, with an international career and collector following. Dávila is the subject of a major exhibition Juan Dávila: Painting and Ambiguity in León, Spain, at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (MUSAC), which runs until November 18. Curator Paco Barragán says, “When one looks back on almost 50 years of Dávila’s work one is perfectly aware not only of the complexity and contemporary relevance of the subject matters he deals with, but also of how, from a formal point of view, he has never stopped moving forward and experimenting, renewing his own pictorial language and creating works that never cease to amaze.”
Painting and Ambiguity is the first solo exhibition in Spain of the Australian-Chilean artist. Born in Santiago de Chile in 1946, Dávila emigrated to Australia in 1974, just after the coup of Pinochet. Since the 1970s his work has employed painting to engage in critical arguments about sexuality, gender, immigration, colonialism, multiculturalism and otherness. Dávila has been thinking and talking about these ideas since before they became contemporary buzzwords. The exhibition presents a selection of work from the last five years, including large-scale paintings, watercolours, posters and several installations created especially for MUSAC. Barragan says, “Painting and Ambiguity not only confronts the viewer with the contradiction and complexity of the painting itself, but also with the violence that emanates from the contemporary global society that shies away from the other, the different.” Painting and Ambiguity shows at MUSAC, León until November 18, 2018.