TM Davy
In the Light of



TM Davy – In the light of Love
Part of ‘Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Come Again.’ open until Saturday April 6, 2019.

How did you become an artist?

I grew up in New York.  I am fortunate that my father is a painter.  I have very early memories of working in his studio, drawing shells from a box of sand that he kept to finish his landcapes, following him into the forest to paint.  When I was a young teenager, I began a sort of summertime apprenticeship at the mural studio he directs.  In those years, a couple of great old painters from Russia and China were working there, highly trained in the social realist academic styles of their state academies. They loved to demonstrate the craft of painting, but also loudly praised the freedom that American art seemed to allow them.  I paid attention and learned through simple tasks.  The summer before college I helped paint the clouds on the ceiling of the New York Public Library. 

Then I went to the School of Visual Arts, where I teach now.  I found a few incredible teachers and inspiring peers.  But it wasn't until after all that learning that I understood my way of freedom. 

So, you didn’t want to be an artist as such; you wanted to paint?

Wanting to paint is a spirit that defines me, a strange desire to transmute a phenomenal reality into the feeling body, and to transmute the feeling body into phenomenal reality.  It's a process intrinsic to my being, or maybe all of ours in some way.  Painting is a part of our collective becoming.  Humans have always painted, for every reason or none, and I can't imagine an end to that intimate and mythic transferrence.   Perhaps anything is art that encounters our connective potential, but I've always perceived it in painting. 

Gertrude Stein ends her portrait of Picasso, " Let me recite what history teaches. History teaches."  When I began to study art history in my own time, I discovered queer painting and romantic conceptual art from the last century that expanded every feeling I had of being in the world.  Some of the ones who meant an extreme lot to me are Paul Cadmus (1904–99), David Wojnarowicz (1954–92), and Felix Gonzalez Torres.  Much of that art is not painting, but a song of living. So I grew, made art in other forms, and painting came more alive for me also.

Light is the great connector in my art, and it has both symbolic and metaphysical values. "Sol Invictus."  Indeed, it is the apriori pattern of our visual and symbolic systems.   It is also the source of life, becoming in the leaves of grass.  In paint, light is always intrinsic to the song.  I follow that power and that metaphor.  It’s an eternal verse always playing and wanting to be played with.

Reflecting now on Scandinavian artists who understand the ways of light, I love the Danish artist Peder Severin Krøyer and the Swedish artist Anders Zorn.The light and living in Zorn's paintings are totally inspiring. I’m working on a bunch of pastel drawings of nude women at the beach right now! However, my models are lesbian friends on Fire Island.

Who are the portraits you’re showing at CFHILL of?

Lauryn, Paul, and Sister (the dog), are friends of mine from years in New York City and summers on Fire Island.  We are expanding a queer and creative utopia there.  Lauryn is a brilliant digital artist and radical housemate.  Paul Sepuya is a great photographer who is also one of my oldest friends.  Funny, but he's on the cover of Artforum this month. 

The horses feel like dreams to me, but I sat in a friends field drawing them for weeks. I've always loved the mythic form of horses, vehicles of a solar heaven.  But sitting there, I realized how their great muscular necks are primarily a form to reach the grass below. Bow after bow they eat in a motion like praying. The sun becomes the horse through so many thin leaves, requiring constant devotion.  The horse heads themselves seemed to radiate inside the blades, that solar becoming itself.  Human culture, in stabling horses, has largely freed them from that demand of power.  But then the power moves to us. 

My belief in portraits is that you can find new energy within a small and humble space. You can locate the revolution about a person just by seeing them in their light.

We exist in an age of complete transition. The time is now to communicate the beauty of queer love around the world.   A paradigm shift in people’s conception of love is happening. If I can, I want to play a small part in that–in revealing how true and how eternal it is. Transcendence is a movement to the broadest spectrum.