Artist: Sarah Davidson
Exhibition title: Side View
Venue: Feuilleton, Los Angeles, US
Date: January 2 – February 27, 2021
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Feuilleton, Los Angeles
Feuilleton is pleased to present a solo exhibition of the Canadian, Toronto-based artist Sarah Davidson.
Of this body of work, Sarah Davidson writes:
This work was all created in the past 8 months, and I was thinking of the drawings as having a relationship to plein air observational drawing, in scale and medium, and also in process. They’re all drawn at least partly from observation (also partly from historical sources, partly from intuition). The background blobs and web-like forms are drawn without any reference, and the recognizable flora and fauna is rendered partly from life. The recognizable forms in my drawings are familiar (as in they’re not exotic frogs, lily pads, etc, they’re species I might actually see around). The style owes a lot to historical ‘natural’ history drawing. For instance Maria Sibylla Merian’s drawings of the life cycles of insects. Although those evoke some ambivalence in me: they’re both beautiful and also grotesque. They’re a careful and close look at delicate lives and also a symptom of the colonial exploits of a western nation.
I like for space to function strangely in my drawings. They’re meant to do something other than what that kind of scientific observational drawing does, to be porous, to suggest connections between disparate forms. There’s something queer in that, which I’m trying to work through, which is maybe inherent in the non-specific biomorphism of the forms, and the idea of stressing connections between elements rather than distinctions between them. Maybe just in wondering who defines what is ‘natural’, and who that serves.
I spent ten years working as a guide for an outdoor school, (which I still do, technically, I just haven’t worked during the pandemic), and my interest in thinking about ‘nature’ and observation comes out of that, in my downtime I would fill notebooks with drawings from my surroundings, and in a more abstract sense, because I had to teach ecology and natural history classes, I started to question the subtext of the lessons I was passing on, and my own authority on either of those subjects. I’ve been thinking about observation for a while, and so I made these drawings thinking it would be productively uncanny if they looked back at their viewers. Moths in particular were interesting to me, because their markings mimic eyes. I guess these drawings are about wondering: who is seeing who, and how?
Sarah Davidson (b. 1989, Ottawa) lives and works in Toronto, Canada. She has exhibited her work at Cassandra Cassandra (Toronto), Erin Stump Projects (Toronto), Unit 17 (Vancouver), The Power Plant (Toronto), Little Sister (Toronto), Birch Contemporary (Toronto), The New Gallery (Calgary), and Audain Gallery (Vancouver). She was a finalist in the 2018 RBC Canadian Painting Competition, and is the recipient of awards and residencies including the Banff Centre’s Late Winter BAiR (2020), the Toronto Arts Council’s Emerging Visual Artist Grant (2020), and AiR Sandnes residency in Sandnes, Norway (2016). She holds a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art & Design (2015) and an MFA from the University of Guelph (2019).