Artist Feature: Christian Davies
Christian Dicky Davies is a Bay Area artist originally from Austin, Tx. His paintings are inspired by the American quilt patterns that he grew up around with his mother being a quilter. His practice is an open ended meditation that draws on tradition and pattern as a means for exploring connections to his past and a greater collective experience. Christian is the co-director of the Adobe Books Backroom Gallery in San Francisco and works full-time as a producer at SFMOMA. He has shown in various galleries and spaces in San Francisco. He has two cats and currently lives and works in Oakland.
What inspired you to be an artist? When did you know you wanted to be one?
I’ve been painting since I was a child. Both of my parents were artists: my mother was a quilter and ceramicist and my father is a photographer and ceramicist. I spent a lot of time in museums growing up; creativity and art were a constant part of my childhood.
What is your favorite part of being an artist? What do you find most rewarding?
The process and act of painting is a really meditative thing for me where I can either work through my thoughts or even completely zone out and not have to think about what else is going on. My favorite part is really at the inception of a piece when I’ve spent some time preparing the surface and thinking about all the possibilities held in the blank canvas. It feels like no matter what preparation that I’ve done the piece could be anything until I make that first mark and then painting takes off. Painting is really something I couldn’t live without doing and its greatest reward is feeling like I have a language that makes the most sense to me to be able to communicate with.
How would you describe your work?
I paint from traditional American quilt patterns as a basis for my work. I start with a quilt block and then let it morph and unfold in a very improvised way to the degree that it can be unrecognizable from the original block.
What do you hope your art provides to viewers and to prospective buyers?
I want my paintings to work like the quilts/blankets they’re painted to be. The meditative process hopefully comes through and holds the viewer much like a quilt would. I’m interested in variation through repetition and think that quilts work well to explore that idea. I can paint a tumbling block quilt that will inherently be different but in many ways is just the same as all the other tumbling block quilts ever made.
How has your artistic style evolved from when you first started?
My work had been very based in landscape painting until about five years ago when my mother passed away from a battle with cancer and I started working with the quilt patterns, inspired by her own quilting. The quilt pieces have evolved in scale and scope vastly from where I started. I’d like to see them painted to the scale of full queen sized quilts eventually.
What about your work do you think resonates with the buyers of your pieces?
I think that everyone knows what a quilt is and that the patterns and associations with quilts of all types allows the work to resonate with the homes the pieces end up in. They become a warm moment of calm that can function in passing as well as with a longer viewing. They come as source of comfort like your favorite blanket.