Shortly after “Candela,” his last exhibition at 11R, TM Davy discovered a note on the back of an old family photograph of a man with two horses. “195 Chrystie Street, 1880.” Davy would learn the man was his patrilineal great-great-great-grandfather, a German 48er who began his family’s American livelihood with a livery stable, here, at the exact plot of the current 11R.
TM Davy’s new exhibition, “Horses,” is an unapologetic affirmation, a devotional orientation and a trans meditation on being here now. The central body is equine, an agent container contained by the theatrical structure of work, a formative metaphor of painting being meaning, or archetypal mirrors to the artist.
In the front room, a mare and foal (black with white paint) will be installed parallel to a stallion (white with black paint), their heads facing Chrystie street. Each stands within a simple stable room, looking up to a painted window that casts light back across them in a flowing sequence of spectral tones. The central gallery space contains a pony pissing against a darkness. The back gallery holds another mother and child pair (white with brown paint), their downward arch of bodies this time seemingly illuminated from the viewer’s direction. Manure growing mushrooms, sassafras and grass frame an inward portal of nature that vanishes behind their central forms. On the opposite wall, a masked brown horse in a wooden box bows for salt.
This suite of monumental equine paintings is a sidestep in scale and subject matter from Davy’s previous intimate portraits and candle-lit scenes. But as a meditation on family history, art history, and the meaning of painting, “Horses” carries forward Davy’s practice about love and the search for a way of living deeply today.