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.