born Chile 1946, arrived Australia 1974
Guacolda del Carmen Gallardo 2004 (detail)
oil on canvas
120 x 90 cm
Courtesy of the artist
© The artist, courtesy of Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art
Chilean-born Juan Davila, who relocated to Australia in 1974, is a passionate advocate of the need for art to debate issues of social and political significance. Davila’s complex, beautiful and challenging paintings are known for their thorough interrogation of cultural, sexual and social identities, within an international context.
Incorporating text, found objects, appropriated imagery, photography and other media, Davila’s paintings provide insightful critiques of themes including the Australian political system, the cultural aspects of late capitalism, the structures of the art world and sexuality. More recently, the artist has addressed the treatment of refugees in Australian detention centres in a series of nightmarish ‘Woomera’ landscapes referencing the suffering of detainees.
Juan Davila is the first major museum exhibition of the artist’s work. It features seminal examples of Davila’s paintings such as his epic 1980s murals, rarely seen Chilean pieces and new work created specifically for the exhibition.
Internationally recognised for his innovation in painting, Davila is represented in every major public collection in Australia, as well as New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo in Spain. He has exhibited widely throughout Australia, South and North America and Europe and was included in the 1982 and 1984 Biennales of Sydney and the 1998 São Paulo Biennial.