The Moral Meaning of Wilderness

Juan Davila, 'After Image, A Man Renounces Love', oil on canvas, 200 x 280 cm, 2010

Last weekend Leg of Lamb caught the final day of ‘The Moral Meaning of Wilderness’, an exhibition of recent large-scale works by Juan Davila at the Griffith University Art Gallery in Brisbane.  Shifting between figuration and abstraction, Davila revisits the techniques of plein air painting, depicting the Australian landscape in quickly executed pastel colours. Works like After Image, A Man Renounces Love (above) contain swirling, organic forms that recall the automatism of Gorky, amongst others, fused with a pop-like candy-coloured sensibility.  In contrast, paintings like Arthur Street (below) are intentionally anticlimactic, despite their heroic scale.  Here, Davila paints the land with soft, feathery strokes that disintegrate into absolute nothingness.  By subverting the conventions of landscape painting, Davila problematises traditional notions of the sublime. Instead, his work examines our current state of ecological crisis and Australia’s complex relationship with the land.

Juan Davila, 'Albert Street', oil on canvas, 85 x 235 cm, 2007

The Moral Meaning of Wilderness will travel to MUMA in Melbourne later this year.

One response to “The Moral Meaning of Wilderness

  1. I’ve never heard of Juan Davilla but I love these paintings, reminds me a little of Cy Twombly….though his other work is pretty strong stuff….nice site, I will definitely check back again…..

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