2a Conway Street, Fitzroy Square,
London W1T 6BA, UK
T +44 0 20 7436 4899
F +44 0 20 7323 3182

28 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia,
London W1T 2NA, UK
T +44 0 20 7255 2828
F +44 0 20 7580 2828

262 Mott Street, New York,
NY 10012, USA
T (212) 925-3500


Contact us

Gallery Opening Times UK
Monday 10-6pm
Tuesday 10-6pm
Wednesday 10-6pm
Thursday 10-6pm
Friday 10-6pm
Saturday 10-6pm
Sunday Closed.

Gallery Opening Times NYC
Monday - Saturday 11am - 7pm
Sunday 12 - 6pm.

Paul Davies

Artist Statement


The focus of my recent work is predominantly based on the relationship between the built and non-built environment. My interest in this subject began during school and was prompted by a painting my parents owned by Jeffrey Smart, titled “Man with bouquet” 1982 (figure 1). At this time, my parents also introduced me to the photography of Ansel Adams and the combination of these two influences manifested in the work I produced while taking art classes whilst under the supervision of Central Coast landscape artist, Kel Connell. Connell taught me the basics of landscape painting and omitted the human form from all work, instead focusing on built forms to provide the subject. Connell’s training, together with more recent exposure to Australian Street Artists and Graffiti Writers (introduced through my involvement with the China Heights collective, Surry Hills) and my study at COFA, have merged to form the multidisciplinary practice I use today. My practice primarily involves photography, stenciling, and acrylic painting, with which my first experiments began in 2002. These works depicted Sydney street scenes mixed with researched popular culture images (figure 2). The layering process of this technique created on the canvas a visual diary of my immediate surroundings.

A number of the images that I used in the early collage paintings included Japanese woodblock prints such as The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Katsushika Hokusai, 1803-33 (figure 3 & 4). Hokusai’s printed image, which is very popular in Australian culture and was appropriated as a brand logo by the surf company Quicksilver, (figure 5), appealed to me as a stencil artist because of its graphic quality and instantly recognisable subject matter.

As I researched both the urban landscape and woodblock prints further, I discovered the “organic” buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright and his interest in Japanese architecture. Although not all his theories were shared by the stark modernists such as Harry Seidler, whose buildings I also use in some of my paintings, his work spoke of futurism by sampling influences from various sources in order to reconsider, and, in particular, domestic housing. The straight lines and bold form of his design, juxtaposed with the rugged landscape, appealed to my aesthetic and I attempted to capture that directness in my paintings (figure 6).

For the past five years I have used my work to depict and consider other examples of modern architecture, and its open plan living ideal as a way of responding to the landscape that surrounds it (figure 7). My decision to paint images of modern architecture over other styles of buildings was based on the egotistical and dominant nature of these structures. The painting style which I use is often bold and dramatic and attempts to enforce the architect’s original idea of “looking forward”. By applying layers of collaged images, including my own photographs, I piece together elements that aim to heighten the original subject and display it in a contemporary manner (figure 8). Often the paintings appear nostalgic due to the subject and palate, however I try to represent these structures as they are found today: in various states of physical condition. The stencils (figure 9 - 12) also allow me to repeat images and create mirrors of the subject, for example the reflections in pools and rivers become a way of reconsidering the optimism under which the building was created (figure 13).

Much of this work has been sourced from my recent visits to America and Europe. During these visits I examined The Eames House and Schindler House, both in Los Angeles, Frank Sinatra’s holiday retreat in Palm Springs, The Bauhaus in Dessau and The Villa Savoye in Poissy. I have also visited the modernist buildings in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, by Van Mollyvan, who spent time training under Le Corbusier. Gaining access to these sites often takes many requests as some of the buildings are privately owned. I was interested in these examples of international landscapes and architecture because of the striking, atmospheric qualities I could capture when photographing them (please see back of “Hanmer” catalogue (enclosed) and “Journal” section at pauldavies.com.au for examples of my research photographs). To amplify these images, I collaged them with sourced landscape photographs, of North America’s West Coast, by Ansel Adams (figure 14). Adams’s photographs, with their crisp cinematic quality, allowed me to play with the composition and to stage dramatic, non-existent scenes. The photographic images reminded me of typical holiday postcards and I have attempted to capture this in my work by intensifying the perspectives and altering the colour ways (figure 15).

Although the scenes and structures that inhibit them seem picturesque, in reality, these iconic homes can often feel austere and isolated. My work investigates these images as portraits of space, devoid of human form, inviting the viewer to generate their own emotional response to the painting. The absence of people in my work encourages the viewer to wander uninterrupted through the space and appreciate the built and non-built qualities of the surrounding environment. Through my practice I have attempted to explore this concept of isolation by incorporating empty swimming pools in the picture (figure 16). Throughout my school years I swam competitively and was fascinated by the vacant feeling of the outdoor pools when they were drained for winter. I recently visited David Hockney’s underwater swimming pool mural, painted in the 1980’s for The Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles (figure 17). Hockney’s work addresses issues of space and location, and his swimming pool design is a brilliant 3D version of these concepts. This year I designed a version of Hockney’s mural, for my Father’s swimming pool, (figure 18) and the experience was helped by the understanding of space I learnt from my study at COFA. By creating my paintings devoid of people, “emptying” the swimming pools and “burning” the forests, I am attempting to convey this dislocation to the viewer and raise environmental concerns that face us today.

Although much of the work is based on international material, I have completed a number of recent works featuring Australian built and non-built environments. These works include collaged images of The Centenary Pool, Brisbane, James Birrell, 1957, (figure 19) Rose Seidler House, Harry Seidler, Wahroonga, 1950, (figure 20) and many private commissions of more contemporary buildings such as Stockland’s Liverpool Street, High-Rise apartment tower in Sydney (figure 21). Harry Seidler’s work used various influences from different creative fields and The Rose Seidler House in particular references some of the geometric principals and primary colour ways of artist, Piet Mondrian (figure 22 & 23). In my painting I also reference Mondrian’s simplicity of form and the juxtapositions of built and non-built environments, a concern which was explored in his earlier paintings of windmills (figure 24 & 25). The Australian works, similarly to the international ones, are painted in layers of imagery to set a general tone that heightens the depicted scene and raises questions about the way in which humans interact via built forms with the natural environment.


Pastiche Richard Dyer, Routledge, 2006.

An Australian Accent – Three Artists, Mike Parr, Imants Tillers, Ken Unsworth. John Kaldor Art Project 7, P.S.1 New York 1984.

Sold! The Gold Coast Real Estate Dream Gold Coast City Art Gallery 2006, Curator – Virginia Rigney (Curator of Public Programs) Crafting the image of the Dream Virginia Rigney

Martin Sharp A democratic surrealism Christine France, Art & Australia Vol. 47

Mathias Weischer Malerei/Painting essay Which memory is speaking? Markus Stegmann, Hatje Cantz 2007

The Australian Ugliness Robin Boyd, Penguin Books, 1960

Pageant David Noonan Foxy Production, 2007

Waves of Influence Japan and the West Gary Hickey. From “Monet & Japan” touring exhibition at The National Gallery of Australia 2001.

The Fountainhead Ayn Rand, Signet, 1943

High-Rise J.G. Ballard, Harper Perennial, 1975

Jeffrey Smart: paintings of the ‘70s and ‘80s John Macdonald, Craftsman House, 1990

Peter Doig essay Reconquering the World: 100 years ago Catherine Grenier Phaidon, 2007

Mondrian John Miller, Phaidon 1992

Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams, Natural Affinities Little, Brown and Compnay 2008

Theatrum Mundi: On the Works of Gert and Uwe Tobias Alexander Eiling, 2010

An Introduction to Modern Architecture J. M. Richards Pelican, 1970

Bauhaus Workshops for Modernity 1919 1933 Barry Bergdoll, Leah Dickerman, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2010

Ed Ruscha Richard D. Marshall, Phaidon, 2005

Harry Seidler Houses & Interiors 1 & 2 Chris Abel, Images Publishing, 2003

Richard Neutra And The Search For Modern Architecture Thomas S. Hines, Rizzoli, 2005

Julius Shulman: Desert Modern A film by Michael Stern Palm Springs Art Museum, 2008

David Hockney: A bigger Picture Director: Bruno Wollheim, 2009


9 September 2009 - Art: Paul Davies Sydney (Wallpaper)
Click here to download pauldaviesPress.pdf

1 June 2009 - In A Crowd (Inside Out)
Click here to download 20090330 Inside Out Tim Olsen Gallery.pdf

27 March 2010 - No Place Like Home (Sydney Morning Herald)
Click here to download Sydney Morning Herald - Spectrum Paul Davies.pdf

1 May 2009 - On The House (Belle)
Click here to download 20090462 belle Tim Olsen Gallery.pdf