To help promote our current exhibition Virtually real, running in the Norman Rea Gallery until 10th February, we hosted a q and a with one of the artists exhibiting in the exhibition, Peter Davis, a Manchester-based fine artist.
"What is your artistic schooling? If not official, how did you develop you work?"
'Before I become a professional artist in 2015, I worked for many years as a conceptual art director in various advertising agencies. The creative projects I worked on, became increasingly centred around engaging people on their personal devices. One of the aspects I
found most interesting about the work was the insight around human behaviour and digital technology. So, when I made the switch to a full-time artist, it was this fascination that triggered my idea for Zeitgeist.
Zeitgeist, which means ‘spirit of the age’, is the name of my ongoing series of paintings that look at people’s relationship with their tech. I believe personal technology is blurring our physical and digital worlds and making us fundamentally rethink what it means to be human.'
"What are the primary influences behind your works?"
'I am fascinated by the IRL/URL paradigm, our In Real Life (IRL) vs digital life (URL) personas that we’re all trying to balance. Seeing people connected to their devices 24/7 is so common that we don’t give it a second thought anymore. As the American writer, Henry Miller, puts it
“What the painter sees he is duty-bound to share. Usually, he makes us see and feel what ordinarily we ignore or are immune to.”
I am a great believer that the role of an artist is to hold a mirror up to society. For me, being able to capture the often-overlooked elements of contemporary life is something I really enjoy about painting - looking at the relationship between people and their technology, and the ways in which we relate to, benefit from, and live with our devices.
There is an intentional dichotomy between my technology-centric images and my traditional painting process. At the heart of all my artwork is someone absorbed in their personal technology. I like my paintings to feel technically beautifully. Whilst the scenes that I document can pass in seconds, it can take weeks for me to preserve in paint the essence of that fleeting moment.
The focus of my compositions, however, is less about the utopic promise of the technology and more about its impact on, and relationship to, the person. By juxtaposing a highly detailed figure against a flat coloured background, I want to suggest a sense of isolation and separation from the real world.'
"Please describe the works currently on display in the exhibition."
'The three paintings that are on show in the Virtually Real exhibition illustrate this. “Plastic Fantastic” and “VR Zombie” document the emergence of Virtual Reality and its relationship to actual reality. Their compositions explore the inner euphoria that VR can bring vs the outer isolation.
With “VR Zombie” I particularly enjoyed using the light from the technology to tell the story of what’s going on.
“Son of Zelda” is about a boy completely engrossed in his new handheld gaming device, too busy fighting warriors and rescuing Princess Zelda to care about what’s happening in real life.
Personal technology is now the established force that governs modern life. It’s such a rich vein of inspiration, that I don’t ever see myself turning my back on it in this series. It’ll be fascinating to see how the narratives that I have painted so far, are going to be received by future generations in 20-30 years’ time.'
For further information, please contact:
Mobile 07753 805636
We thank Peter Davis for his time and for his interesting insights into his work and the digital world.
Peter's work can be seen in the exhibition which runs until February 10th.
All photos courtesy of Peter Davis.