Ian Davis is a Los Angeles based painter whose work is rooted in meticulous, intricate drawing. His open-ended narratives take place within in a looming apocalypse, where crowds of conforming male subjects gather around a spectacle or an impending disaster of some kind, each outfitted in identical business suits or lab coats. The assembly of experts, seemingly earnest, yet motionless, communicates the collective anxiety of contemporary society. The multi-colored print Black Balloons, for example, references the current opioid epidemic and the Black Balloon Tribute that has spread internationally to call attention to the crisis. Throughout his work Davis turns his keen observation and dark humor to the systemic cultural failings that shape the human condition.
Davis had his first Tamarind residency in summer 2017.
Tamarind Posts About Davis
The black balloons and the somber white coat-clad doctors in the print make me think of the healthcare workers bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis today. Without having yet consciously made this connection, I hung the piece in my office about a week before we began working remotely in observance of stay-at-home orders.
[Garo] and Ian hit it off immediately, they were chatting like old friends (common with Garo). Turns out, they are both from Indiana! Later that year, Ian and I had a chance to go see Garo’s show in LA, in a gallery not far from Ian’s house.” – Valpuri Remling
The significance of black balloons in this is not clear. They represent some sort of negation, an anti celebratory symbol. Like a bunch of little black holes, some sort of loss is being conveyed. The men who have gathered for the purpose of this image are doing so for a somber purpose.” – Ian Davis @ Tamarind Institute