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Annotated works

DAVIES, John

(Cheshire, United Kingdom, 1946)

(Every) War Memorial

Resin and fibreglass, acrylic paint, wood, cloth, hair and rope

162,5 x 366,5 x 244 cm

1974-1977

Contemporary Art (20th Century - 21th Century)

N.° inv. 03/45

Acquired in 2003

Child's View

Polyester resin and paint

217 x 139,5 x 133,5 cm

1997-2001

Contemporary Art (20th Century - 21th Century)

N.° inv. 09/262

Acquired in 2009


DAVIES, John on Online collection

Three life-size figures form a vulnerable and expectant group, the realism of which is achieved by lifecasting and applying hair and fibreglass eyes, second-hand clothes and shoes. With external references reduced to the minimum, the ensemble stands on a dais that emphasises its theatrical quality. The characters are ashen, throwing into relief Davies' command of texture and chromatic refinement, qualities that grant his figures an archaeological and transcendent appearance. As in other works from his early period, (Every) War Memorial evokes the existentialism of the Theatre of the Absurd, culturally predominant in the sixties and seventies, and above all the oeuvre of Samuel Beckett, which had made a deep impression on the sculptor. Furthermore, this work appeals to social awareness expressed through art, for it is inspired in a press cutting of a photograph of a street in Beirut after a bomb explosion.

As for Child's View, it belongs to a series of heads, recurrent in the artist's output, going from life-size to minute pieces or cyclopean heads, as this one, which measures in height over two meters. A child's view, referred to by Davies in the title of the work, offers a new dimension to the viewer's perspective; then, the eye is guided by the signs on the surface of the work, evoking marks of an archaeological quartering. The hieratic frontality of the figure is enlivened solely by the naïf colouring of the eyes and the mouth on the whiteness of the rough surface that makes it look like a plaster cast, suggesting the illusory and luminous trace of a monumental sculpture of Greek or Etruscan echoes.

Davies attended Hull and Manchester Colleges of Art during the 1960s. He then moved to London where he enrolled at the Slade School of Fine Art. In 1972 he held his first one-man show at London's Whitechapel Art Gallery, to great acclaim. At once representational and realist, Davies' contemporary classicism updates the historical reconsideration of an art that focuses on the solemn and enigmatic presence of man.  [M.G.M.]

Selected bibliography ([Every] War Memorial):

John Davies : esculturas y dibujos desde 1968 = Sculptures and drawings since 1968. [Cat. exp.].Valencia ; Bilbao : IVAM Institut Valencià d'Art Modern ; Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa , 2004, pp. 37, 81, 85, 93, 120-121.

Adquisiciones 02/0. [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2007, pp. 106-107, n.º 44.

Marta García Maruri. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : guía. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2011 (1ª ed. 2006; ed. inglés; ed. francés; ed. euskera), pp. 204-205, n.º 146 a, ad vocem.

Selected bibliography (Child's View):

John Davies : esculturas y dibujos desde 1968 = Sculptures and drawings since 1968. [Cat. exp.].Valencia ; Bilbao : IVAM Institut Valencià d'Art Modern ; Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2004, p. 217.

Marta García Maruri. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : guía. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2011 (1ª ed. 2006; ed. inglés; ed. francés; ed. euskera), pp. 204-205, n.º 146 b, ad vocem.

Annotated works