Wearing Nature on His Sleeveshttps://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/art-and-culture/wearing-nature-on-his-sleeves/

Wearing Nature on His Sleeves

For the first time, industrial designer Alex Davis works with colour on larger-than-life botanical paintings

Daisy by Alex Davis

By Express Features Service

From water hyacinths to carnations, dahlias to Himalayan Iris, designer Alex Davis brings a bouquet of flowers to Exhibit 320 gallery, Delhi, in his new show “Herbarium Indica”. An industrial designer, Davis, is known for his steel installations that have taken on nature themes. Each of his canvases is in monochrome, taking on the colour from the flower itself. Marigold wears a robust yellow, while Bougainvillea sports a teasing magenta, and Himalayan Iris, a brooding purple.

Memories of hikes to the Himalayas, childhood in the Western Ghats and the Kerala backwaters, fishing trips and gardening, have all flocked in too, making their presence felt in the choice of flowers. “If you travel along the Himalayas, you will find the Himalayan Iris everywhere, and the Western Ghats are filled with lilies, orchids and birds of paradise. I have studied the structure of each of these flowers, during my many trips, petal by petal,” says Davis, 52.

Using the impasto technique on oils, each of his flowers seem to have a character of their own, if Nargis exudes fragility, Almatas buds cling to one another, while the Lily speaks of purity against its white backdrop. Much of Davis’s research came from handbooks on flowers, and inspiration by Dutch masters. “I believe paintings have to be simple. Since my school days I’ve been painting with watercolours and some of the first illustrators of flowers, as we know, were from India,” says Davis. These works have been inspired by the style of ‘colour field painting’.
“The show is an exercise of colour,” says fashion designer David Abraham, “It’s very textural. And flowers as a theme, have been important in every art style.” Gallery Director and curator Rasika Kajaria, says, “Alex has juxtaposed scale and fragility all at once. By increasing the scale of the subject, you see the details of the flower first and then the colours.”

His training at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, and Domus Academy, Milan, have melded into his steel sculptures of over two decades. His collections, which are exaggerated in scale, boast of a mirror finish, be it the Lazy Garden creeper stems, or The Moonlit Safari collection that had interpretations of hunting trophies of ox, rhino and deer. In each of these he lends an original and modern voice to design. The exhibition at Exhibit 320 is an extension of this idea.