by Enda O'Donoghue (artist / curator), 2014
The paintings of Matthew Davis play along a very blurred line somewhere between abstraction and realism, traversing contradictory ideas of macro and micro, control and chance or mechanical and fluid. They defy and subvert so many of ideas that we normally associate with the act of painting while still being almost a homage to the medium and material itself. These are paintings which are result of a very involved and lengthy process, where the evidence of each and every decision and every action is finally exposed in the pools, the drops and the layers of paint upon paint built up over time upon the surface. At a certain close distance it can be tempting to imagine these drops almost as accidental or as uncontrollable as raindrops and while it is clear that chance plays a major role in the process so too does intention and control. The eyes are drawn in to peel back through the layers of paint, interpreting and deciphering the steps that lead to the conclusion and the closer one looks the more one gets hopelessly lost exploring what can seem like an impossible chaos and randomness on that surface but pull back and the image is formed.
The images chosen present us with an array of themes, from the football and basketball stadiums, to the rides at a funfair, to swimmers floating in water and to cargo and fishing ships at sea. All in some ways deceptively benign, these themes and these images play with notions of both the ordinary and at the same time the idea of spectacle, in such a way that have the capacity to speak to universal ideas of contemporary society and modern life. All of the images come originally from photographs and incredibly the subtleties of photographic experience remains very present even after the intense transformation they go through to become paintings. The effects and atmosphere of light, both natural and artificial, would seems to be a thread that runs through almost all of the images. The kaleidoscope of colour which makes up each image can appear to glow or shimmer with the illusion of light and it is all too easy to forget for a brief moment that this is light formed from the fluid and material quality of paint.