Here’s Gallery Director Nancy Zastudil:
Black Balloons by Ian Davis in an image that has stuck with me for some time; I distinctly remember seeing the lithograph exhibited at Tamarind a few years before I started working as gallery director. Davis’s repetitive figurative style is unmistakable and I recognized it immediately from his works featured on the cover of the New York Times Magazine.
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.
I recently read an interview with Davis in which he says, “My eyes can only handle so much,” a phrase that hit me hard. Many of today’s headlines are grim—the statistics, the projections, the stories of people struggling in unimaginable ways. We can only handle so much. Black Balloons gives my eyes just enough repetition, with a bit of hypnotic effect, to mimic the anxiety and loss many of us are feeling right now. But the places where the compositional structure falls apart or wavers, even slightly, gives my soul some space to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that at least I’m not numb, not yet. And that gives me some hope.