Through the use of painting and installation, David Paul Downs explores themes of nature versus the artificial. His abstract works are a metaphor for social anxiety and a desire to retreat into nature while admitting to a feeling of disconnection to the natural elements.
The show will take place for one night only in a U-Haul truck parked at the corner of W Fulton Market and N Aberdeen in the West Loop gallery district. The show is free and open to the public.
Naked in the Woods
“Action Painting” was a term used in the 1950’s to describe the style of abstract expressionist artists like Jackson Pollack and Willem de Kooning who were creating large scale paintings with big gestural marks that presented a memory of the dancing physicality of their material application. My paintings relate to that performance and abstract expressionism by the use of nonobjective mark making and by allowing the subconscious and conscious mind to work together to solve problems of color and composition. Within these marks I am attempting to create a stylistic language out of the abstraction. Sometimes the conversation between the elements within a painting are sparse, strange and somewhat alienating. Other times the conversation is dense and convoluted. This works as an examination of self-image versus public response and is correlated to anxiety felt with the challenge of relating to others.
Another nod to abstract expressionism is in the incorporation of industrial materials. Insulation foam, for example, is used as a sculptural element that thickens the surface of a painting beyond its substrate. It often resembles whipped cream, cake icing, or sea foam. It’s purpose is to cover, complicate, and divide fields. As applied, the material is somewhat unpredictable as it spurts, falls, and expands. The foam acts as a barrier providing limitations to work around and within, much like those we find in life bonded by societal norms and expectations. While it bares no direct representation of the matter, the action of working with the material does act as a metaphor.
Plant forms that appear as simple lines or crude forms distorted and reduced are in fact related to nature. They remind us of the wild and demonstrates a need to return to the primitive, yet the crudeness of their representation exposes their artifice. I’m exploring the space where natural instinct tries to reconcile the estranged displacement of modern life.