Rhiannon Lowe's picture

Ifor Davies Anatomic Explosions

The new show at National Museum Wales is work by one of Wales leading contemporary artists, Ivor Davies. Silent Explosion: Ivor Davies and Destruction in Art reveals Davies enduring interest in the creative power of destruction featuring painting, sculpture and performance. The show spans the artist s career from the 1940s through to the present day.

Artist, art historian and activist Ivor Davies is one of the foremost figures in contemporary Welsh art. Much of Davies work is stimulated by Welsh culture and politics, a keen sense of time and material, and the interaction of those within the culture in which he lives.

Installed throughout the Museum's six contemporary galleries, Silent Explosion, the largest solo exhibition by a contemporary artist ever staged in Wales, is not a traditional retrospective but focuses on Davies preoccupation with the creative power of destruction.

The exhibition is curated by Nicholas Thornton, Head of Fine Art at Amgueddfa Cymru and Judit Bodor, doctoral researcher at Aberystwyth University. The exhibition is supported by the Colwinston Charitable Trust, the Arts & Humanities Research Council, with additional support from the Henry Moore Foundation.

Although Davies has exhibited his work widely, Silent Explosion also features whole series of works not seen in public for over fifty years. These include mysterious, Picasso influenced paintings made during the mid-1950s when he was experimenting with adding broken egg-shells to his painted surfaces. Another series are a group of powerful abstracts painted in Lausanne, Switzerland between 1959 and 1961.

At the heart of the exhibition is his internationally important archive detailing Davies contribution to 1960s counter culture and in particular the landmark Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS). DIAS took place in London in 1966 and featured performances and presentations by a radical group of artists and thinkers, including figures such as Gustav Metzger, Yoko Ono, Ralph Ortiz and the Viennese Actionists. Silent Explosion reveals Davies key role in this international network of artists.

Silent Explosion is accompanied by a book on the artist, edited by Heike Roms, and published by Occasional Papers. The exhibition also features a full learning and events programme.

Davies was awarded the Gold Medal for Fine Art at the National Eisteddfod in 2002. The Ivor Davies Award, presented since 2003, seeks to reward work that conveys the spirit of activism in the struggle for language, culture and politics, within the annual Y Lle Celf Open Exhibition at the National Eisteddfod.

Silent Explosion is on at National Museum Cardiff until 20 March 2016


Image: Anatomic Explosions, Ivor Davies, Courtesy the artist