Christopher Davison: A View of Relief

(For more information about the “Viewfinder Project” click here.)

Several years ago I met Christopher Davison at his MFA exhibition in Philadelphia. After this exhibit, I invited Chris to make a “Viewfinder”. The drawing I received (seen below) led me to more questions than answers. Although illustrative, the image also seems somewhat atypical of Davison’s work because it is relatively minimal and focuses on a single subject. The figure or form that Davison presents does not fit a neat characterization. Is it a depiction of a machine, is it a creature, or is it some tree or natural formation? It seems to be spouting out steam which initially caused me to make a mental leap to my memory of Old Faithful.

Christopher Davison’s “Viewfinder”, Size: 6″ x 4 1/4, 2005

As my teaching position this summer came to a close, my sense of Christopher’s drawing had evolved. I began to see his picture more specifically as a metaphor for a kind of exhale of relief. I feel that Davison’s view is not so much of an object but more of an illustration of a feeling that transcends a complete description. No matter what job one has or what stresses life presents people need a means to “blow off steam”. This enables one to recharge or to heal. To “blow off steam” does not necessarily imply destructive or self-destructive acts, but it does indicate a limit and a change of course. In the case of individuals it indicates our physical and psychological limits.

In comparison to Davison’s other works, he often uses layers of active drawing marks in a variety of media. Ultimately, this provides his drawings with a kind of psychic energy. For example, within many of these drawings figures that may not appear to be in motion may also appear to pulsate. In contrast to the “Viewfinder” (seen above) that provides an exhale,these drawings are like the energy one receives following the deep long breath. Below is an example from Christopher Davison’s website.

Christopher Davison, Cronies, 11″ x 15″ · gouache on paper, 2011

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