At Another Bouncing Ball, Regina Hackett reports that Robert Davis and Michael Langlois’s show at James Harris is the type of exhibition that makes her sick of art. ‘Some exhibits are so earnest and academic, so overcooked and underfed that when they are taken seriously by excellent curators, dealers and critics, I experience them as if they were tidal waves surging from a sewer. In their stink, I am momentarily but deeply sick of art. A prime example of this sort of thing is currently at James Harris: Robert Davis and Michael Langlois’ ‘Into the Void: The Battle of the Martyr as Told by Ingres.’
“James Harris: Robert Davis and Michael Langlois are collaborators who make paintings together, redefining the conventional notion that paintings are made by a single artist and embody a singular essence or “hand.” They met while at the School of the Art Institute and have worked together since 1997, each taking an equal role in developing ideas, choosing subjects, and executing the works.
“Davis & Langlois: For us, representational painting always includes a deferred relationship to the painting’s event. In this sense, we see our paintings as historical and symmetrical to our own relationship to the past-defined by an ever-renewing dynamic between memory, its representation and the synchronicity brought about in the object itself. Our vocabulary is derived from popular and sub cultures and while we use the oldest trick in the book (mimesis), we are committed to making classical techniques viable options in contemporary art.
“Both paragraphs are Grade A Prime nonsense, but hey, nobody’s perfect. The exhibit also comes wrapped in a ridiculous narrative: a resurrected Ingres narrates the tale of a 15-year-old Palestinian-American girl thinking of Chief Seattle when he was forced out of his land, text translated into Soundgarden lyrics translated into Arabic. Again, bad but not fatal. What’s fatal is the work itself, the painting. It’s gutless, with all the gears of its machinery clogged and dry….” Read more.
“Robert Davis and Michael Langlois: Into the Void: The Battle of the Martyr as Told by Ingres,” James Harris, Seattle, WA. Through June 19, 2010.