“High realism, which is the term Davis prefers amidst the plethora of descriptive terms for his approach to painting, is usually thought to convey how things looked. For the most part, that may be true enough. But it is a rather limited criterion. After all, Jill is an illusion, mere pigment on canvas, despite the sense of life the painter has managed to breath into his creation. And we know, standing in front of this remarkable painting—that the woman pictured is not about to stand up from her chair and suddenly occupy our space. Unlike the birds that tried to eat the grapes painted by the legendary Greek painter Zeuxis, we see the illusion, we will not reach out a hand to help Jill stand up. Yet still, Jill feels true because Davis’s realism is not about how things looked, so much as it is seeking to describe how they are.. “
Richard Thomas Davis has spent well over two years making this body of work which includes portraiture, landscape, interiors and still life. The paintings are not linked by theme so much as being of people, places and things from in and around his studio in LaHave, Nova Scotia. The inspirations for the works have come to him in a variety of ways – the portraits of Jill from meeting a fellow artist with a resemblance to one of Gustav Klimt’s models; a landscape Going Home from a walk on a warm foggy night; two Surf paintings from another walk after a passing storm when large waves coated the beach in coffee coloured foam; the still lifes of buoys from a collection of these objects that sits in his studio; and two paintings of interiors from views of the morning sun entering his home.
“I give a tangible, almost tactile look to the objects in my work,” says Davis. “I want my paintings to give the viewer a very real sense of contemplating reality itself. My desire is to capture the essence of things, caught in a moment of time. I am more interested in the stories things tell me than in the stories I might tell”.
Born in Middletown, New York in 1947, Richard Thomas Davis attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia from 1965-1966. His work resides in numerous public and private collections throughout North America, and he has had many solo and group exhibits. Davis was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2011 and lives and works on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. Davis has been the winner of the Kingston Portrait Prize in 2013 and in November 2019 his painting “Kindling and Mirrors” is displayed at the MEAM (European Museum of Modern Art) in Barcelona, Spain as the recipient of an honorable mention in the international Figurativas painting competition.