Davis was born in 1931, in Springfield, Missouri. He received his BFA and MFA from Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas (1959, 1962). His work is held in many prestigious international collections such as: the Hirshhorn Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, and the Berlinische Museum, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, Germany. Davis currently resides in Arizona.
This is how Davis spoke about his most recent work:
“My work is about meaning as form and the metamorphosis of a pictorial situation. Although contrasting sometimes, it all leads in the same direction. Everything materializes as the piece unfolds – not before. Therefore the point hopefully remains a mystery. Sometimes it may be a bit enigmatic, but not a contradiction. Poets work this way and so do I. For me, nothing can replace the actual reality of the visual experience, even if it is peripheral vision as one is walking along.
Poets and poetry have been a major part of my art from the beginning and still are. I have many poet friends. Poetry influences painters as well. I like that kind of exchange. In my early years in an atmosphere of Abstract Expressionism and abstraction I retained my figurative style. I have tried to mix both of these approaches together.
My background in printmaking has also informed my interest in the linear depiction of form. As German writer, Günter Englehard wrote in as essay in one of my catalogues from Berlin:
The merging of electrifying impulses into a geometrical system of lines, the commitment of expressive tendencies to realistic forms represents the main strength running through Davis’ work since the late fifties.
Regarding the current work, I continue with forms from actual and metaphorical points of view. I also emphasize color tonalities for emotional purposes – black grounds for the canvases, and the use of red for the paintings on paper. There’s a lot of juxtaposing imagery and positioning and layering of small forms.
I hope these words help you to better understand the work, but please remember it is a visual experience,” James G. Davis.