NAKED MILKY WAY
Penny Davenport is a visual artist based in Liverpool (UK) whose depictions of anthropomorphic animal characters and daydreamed landscapes explore the psychological nuances of bodily experience and complexities of inter-personal relationships. The figures that appear in Davenport’s compositions are decidedly non-human, yet perform human traits: they stand on two feet, they often cluster together holding hands, and they gaze out at the viewer with eyes that suggest feelings of empathy and understanding. They sport furry snouts, feathers and other characteristics that mark these silent gentle beings out as recognisably different to human animals. However, they also encourage a projection of conscious agency and an uncanny recognition of selfhood in their display of gestures and facial expressions, indicative of an inner life just like our own.
Having worked for many years in a number of educational establishments, including specialised schools for children with very specific pedagogic needs, Davenport’s practice is informed by a particular attention towards the ways in which humans are socialised, and the subtle mechanisms by which behavioural codes are enforced, and social grouping structures maintained. Deliberately emphasising the ambiguity of non-verbal communication, Davenport’s images are filled with displays of enigmatic body language that often conjure dissonant but co-existent emotional cues: a wince reads as both a pang of longing and fear, whilst an embrace suggests nourishment and sheltering, but also limitation and entrapment.
Whilst there is an interest in a certain kind of friendly intimacy or cartoon immediacy that underpins much of Davenport’s visual vocabulary, the work is also guided by another set of impulses that speak towards a more tragic position of experience and maturity. In many of Davenport’s images, the artist infuses a potent sense of repression, restraint, discomfort or loneliness into her work, in a way that subverts the impression of “cuteness” that is often readable at first glance. Appearing like half-remembered images from childhood, or individual frames from an incomplete narrative, Penny Davenport’s works speak to the secret lives of human minds, in all their turmoil, elation and distinctive vulnerability.
This publication is structured to focus on Davenport’s recent paintings and drawings. In his recent paintings, Davenport draws directly on wooden boards and uses touches that bring the texture of the canvas to life. Davenport’s work, which offers various insights, has been incorporated into a lightweight book by Akiko Wakabayashi, inspired by a notebook. It will be a collection of works with an appearance that will always be with you and by your side.
“The Passing of Time”
December 9-17, 2023
(PLACE) by method (#14,1-3-1 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan)
12:00～19:00（Close at 17:00 on 17th）
Organizer: nidi gallery
December 9th, Events with Penny Davenport
Book signing 15:00-17:00
Opening Reception: 17:00-19:00
Size: B5 / Soft Cover / 96P
Text: Oscar Gilbert (OTP Copenhagen Director)
Design: Akiko Wakabayashi
Languages: Japanese / English
Price: 3,200 yen
Publisher: torch press
ISBN: 978-4-907562-46-5 C0071