The Velvet Rope

On view from 9AM to 5PM daily,
July 30th to August 22nd, 2016.

The Mountain View Mausoleum
2300 Marengo Ave
Altadena, CA 91001
United States

Opening reception Saturday, July 30th from 7PM to 9PM.

The Velvet Rope is a group of new paintings and sculptures by Phil Davis, installed in a 'multi-purpose' gallery at the Mountain View Mausoleum in Altadena, California.
Davis's new work is representational and figurative. The paintings are oil on canvas and sometimes linen; the sculptures are a mix of found and fabricated materials.
The process by which Davis creates the paintings involves a relatively large amount of turpentine, the liquid solvent, which allows for the color of the paint to be stretched without losing its tonal richness. This sort of application, this light touch alone, suggests a delicateness that extends beyond the paintings themselves. Their formal qualities, together with the subject of these paintings, begin to reveal the artist's perspective.
In the pictures, there are staged portraits of men, the image of an iconic dog, the cover of a novel by Janet Fitch. The subject of the paintings, as a group, is perhaps best explained by one sculpture in the exhibition.
The sculpture is an apparatus called a 'Pepper's Ghost.' Originally designed as a special effect oddity, and later employed often in the theater, the Pepper's Ghost uses light and glass to create an apparition. In reality, light is bounced off an object and bounced further off a pane of glass until it finally reaches the viewers eye. Which is to say, at the moment of viewing, there is the original, the copy or representation (the ghost), the perceived original, and further, the perceived copy.
The painted pictures are presented as equal, but having different meanings and, more importantly plucked from different spaces in their respective timelines. That Davis grew up with the Fitch novel, or that the men in the portraits are friends of the artist, contributes to the depth of the project which, at its core, is about the clear yet nuanced communication of complex human thought and emotion.

- Thomas McDonell, Hermon, CA
July, 2016

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