Juan Davila


Although Juan Davila cannibalizes the body of art, his paintings do not show art consumed by desire, but desire by art. Most commentary on Davila is flawed by a fixation on his appropriative method, which should be distinguished from quotation as another bibliophile’s vice. In these paintings sexual fantasy appears as permanent reality; here, the studio stands in for all of culture, and sex is the center of the universe.

Davila’s overheated painting is undeniably powerful; one wishes it were possible to feel some interest or empathy for his characters, but Davila doesn’t tell us anything about his subjects—Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera et al. They are ciphers standing in for art. Davila says that “Painting has no inner life,” and he juxtaposes Latin American art, gay pornography, modernist painting and science fiction. Among all these are isolated paintings of heads that lack any relationship

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