Bradley Davies’ works often play with the ambiguity of language and deal with a certain sense of humour. Davies explores social orders, rituals, and social mechanisms, making connections to various (art) historical periods as well as high and pop culture relating them temporally and culturally to the presence. The works are created in response to phenomena of coexistence, travel and visual cultures.
The sound installation ‚looking through the hearing glass‘ in the front window can also be heard inside and outside of Haus Seel. Using a contact microphone, the artist recorded sounds directly through window panes – in the car, at home, on the train – and put them together in a sound collage: the rain pelting against the window, rotating windshield wipers in a car wash, the wind hitting the glass surface, the train whizzing by etc.
Davies uses the window as the medium through which the sounds passes. The window pane and air transport the sound from one space to another and transferred from the inside to the outside – air becomes auditory perceptible. Given the ongoing pandemic, the awareness of the air – especially as a carrier, has been particularly heightened. As well as, the use of plexiglass windows and partitions as a shield against infection etc. the window itself as protection from weather, wetness and other external influences. Regardless of the weather conditions of the next days and weeks, Davies triggers such irritations: rain dripping against the window pane in the best sunshine weather and the wind blowing from the inside to the outside, albeit perhaps on a windless day.
The ironing board works on the first floor, titled: ‚Hawking‘, ‚Tête-‚,‘ a Tête‘, ‚Repassage a Domicile‘ and ‚Let’s comet’, show excerpts from the Bayeux Tapestry, an 11th-century embroidery. The original depicts the Norman victory and thus the conquest of England at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. In Davies’ series, the scenic cutouts from the “tapestry” are painted, not embroidered. The trompe l’oeil painting style, which picks up the small and time consuming detail like embroidery, deceives our eye. Davies uses the ironing board as a frame, and makes use of the expression, to “iron out your battles” i.e. make peace with someone or something. The saying can be applied both on the political level and to everyday life. Bradley Davies often finds the occasion for his work in site-specific conditions. A linoleum floor, which pretends to be made of wood due to its printed surface, is fixed around the column. Davies thus creates moments of irritation with materials and forms. For example, in the work ‘Schimmel und Äd’ there are stains and discolourations on the walls, which become denser in the corners. Again, using the trompe l’oeil method with chalk and charcoal drawings, Davies recreates the typical manifestations of water damage. The smell and clammy feeling of wetness, which is often found in old walls, is missing. In addition, the traces of mold end at the shadows of the round column. What appears to be mold at first glance is actually a mural.
In the basement, Bradley Davies shows paintings that capture moments while traveling. The movements and ever-changing views of traveling by public transportation provide time for reflection and dreaming. Natural landscapes pass us by and also allow our minds to wander. Being on the road opens up new experiences and different perspectives. In the paintings, it’s an emphasis on the perspective. When passing by things no matter if architecture, landscape or people appear distorted in an unusual angle. The titles refer to the different stops where the photos were taken: Platz der Republik, Baseler Platz, Taunusanlage and Südstern.
As the common thread of the exhibition are the ever surprising moments that challenge and irritate our perception, make us think, stop and pause. Even beyond the world of art, trompe-l’œil is still part of everyday life today – and perhaps more than ever. Virtual reality, fake news, photos embellished with filters – visual deceptions of all kinds invite us to look closely. By combining references to (art) historical epochs with everyday life, Bradley Davies expands the concept of painting and the classic panel painting by means of diverse stylistic devices and materials, irritating us anew each time and thus creating a signal disturbance (dt.: „Signalstörung“) throughout.