Robert Davidovitz Light Hands
Writing by Stanzie Tooth
I imagine light filled gloves - applying pressure as needed, soft then hard, a dance.
Robert Davidovitz is caught in a cycle of making. Each day in the studio he composes lines of paint. Like his minimalist forbears, Davidovitz has been captured by a formalist conundrum: the strictures and freedoms that can be found in the singular expression of a line. Unlike the Barnett Newman’s zips, however, he is not convinced of their ideal. Lines of paint are not actualized, but squeezed and teased. Applied to baking trays by means of a pastry bag, these lines bare the whimsy of their making.This is not an arduous task, it's not a penance, but rather he seems driven by a playful curiosity, propelled by the excitement of the line’s potential, of the colour combinations to come and how his play with paint spurn on the process. Tiny moments of ecstasy exist in the finest of lines. Millimeters of red flashes, quiet whispering lavender, a shock of blue. These exclamations are brought into a type of kooky order through the repetition of the line.
Once a weaver of paint, Davidovitz’s process used to involve painstakingly hatched strips of acrylic. This was a laborious process with a predetermined outcome. In this newest body of work however, he has broken from his stricture. As if carefully pulling the warp from the weft of his woven works, what remains are delicate lines. Without the pattern, lines are left free to dance, to distort, to trick the eye with their loose flutter. They show the beautiful imperfections of what it means to make something by hand. No longer held in place by hatching, these lines flounce in defiance of the straight lines they are intended to be.
These paintings are flirty. Set loose from the weave, they bend and curve, reflecting the body that made them. These are literally and figuratively not straight lines. A play on the rigid history of op art and minimalist labour, Davidovitz’s lines are inflected by queerness. Unafraid to flaunt, to be sexy, to incite touch, they consider the body of the paint and celebrate the delicacy and imperfection that comes from the process of squeezing out paint by hand. The final scale of each piece makes a reference to the body in an intimate and focused way. Works are the size of; a face, a hand, a torso. There is a sense of touch in the work, considering that the integrity of each line is the result of the pressure of the artist’s hands. Paint passes through his fingers. The pressure applied changes the colour blend and bend of the paint. The resulting line is an exclamation of a solitary motion. In their accumulation, they read like the notation of a dance.
Standing before the portrait sized piece "PW/GY", a warm glow radiates in the form of an ombre of peach and mustard. The face is drawn in to the subtle shifts in hue. As my eyes focus, hints of lavender and cream come through. So fine are these changes and play in colour, its hard to conceive of their making - instead, I imagine light filled gloves, something more special than hands, playing with paint and radiating joy. Hard, then soft, a dance.