Limerick, Ireland
Juan Dávila, Entitling, 2015, oil on canvas, 255 x 200 cm. Installation view, 38th EVA International. Photo: Deirdre Power

Juan Dávila

Chile / Australia, b. 1946

Since the early 1970s, Juan Dávila has used painting to engage in debates around aesthetics, politics, and sexuality, and to draw on the rich and varied histories of Latin America, Australia, Europe, and North America. While this challenge to the high-low divide is recognisable to those familiar with the strategies of the Western avant-garde, from Dada to Pop art, his approach also stems from the hybrid modernism of Latin America, which has always incorporated indigenous, colonial, and external influences. While his paintings comprise fractured images into multiple parts, Dávila’s work also influenced by more figurative and narrative traditions, such as portraiture and tableaux. Moreover, he also draws on political satire, agitprop, and cartoons to undermine the carefully manicured images of political leaders, and to uncover the base human desires that operate behind them. Questioning public attitudes to identity and sexuality, the subjects he paints are often people of ambiguous gender, of mixed race or marginal social status – the human figure, which is neither masculine nor feminine but in flux, is used to explore the psychology of current events and situations.

Juan Dávila (b. Santiago, 1946) moved to Melbourne in 1974. Since then his paintings have interrogated cultural, sexual, and social identities, resulting in a provocative body of work. His significant retrospective exhibitions at: Centro Cultural Matucana 100, Chile (2016); National Gallery of Victoria (2007); and Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney (2006); and a survey exhibition at the Drill Hall Gallery (2002). Dávila’s work has featured in a wide range of group exhibitions nationally and internationally, including documenta 12, Kassel (2007). He is represented by Kali Rolfe Contemporary.

(Text: 38th EVA International catalogue)

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