Critics’ Picks

Daniel Davidson, Scarecrow, 2006.

Washington, DC

“Good Cop/Bad Cop”

Project 4
1353 U Street NW #302
October 7–November 11, 2006

“Good Cop/Bad Cop,” comprising new paintings and drawings from husband-and-wife artists Daniel Davidson and Tricia Keightley, pairs two distinct bodies of work that bridge painting and illustration to examine contemporary urban life. Davidson is decidedly “street” in imagery and tone, celebrating the continual assault that constitutes daily life in New York. His environments are broken and patched, but they work, though just barely. Scarecrow (all works 2006) riffs on defaced signage: Garish ribbons of colors swirl around a wooden post covered with tattered, quaint-sounding, hand-scrawled messages (“HI THERE.”; “GOOD 2 C-U”) and a suggestion box, the prosaic past overrun by a chaotic present. A self-portrait, Mr. Everything Pieta (just in case), samples R. Crumb, Richard Lindner, Peter Max, and Leonardo da Vinci in a “come one, come all” image that’s gleefully blasphemous and willfully debauched. Resign yourself, Davidson says, it’s the city . . . it’s The Donkey Show (when that was still cool).

Tricia Keightley’s acrylic-on-canvas paintings celebrate a tamer chaos (if such exists). Beginning with a thin square or rectangular border, Keightley renders slender tubular vines that suggest Aubrey Beardsley’s fluid illustrations and the elaborate calligraphy of Suleiman the Magnificent—these shoots coil around the border in intricate patterns that hint at fences, radiators, ductwork, and antennae. The helter-skelter composition is rarified through Keightley’s elegant draftsmanship and muted coloration—exemplified in works such as 18.20.06—much the way a fashion designer might craft couture from a “peasant look.”