Juan Davila


Heavily-illustrated with Chilean/Australian artist Juan Davila’s paintings in full-colour, this catalogue was produced on the occasion of Davila’s solo exhibition “The Moral Meaning of Wilderness” at Monash University Museum of Art | MUMA Caulfield campus, 4 August – 1 October 2011. Includes essays by Dr. Kate Briggs, and a conversation with Juan Davila.

The Moral Meaning of Wilderness features recent work by Juan Davila, one of Australia’s most distinguished artists. The exhibition sees Davila turn to the genres of landscape and history painting, at a time when the environment is as much a political as a cultural consideration. With technical virtuosity, Davila’s striking representations of nature achieve monumental significance, depicting beauty and emotion while addressing modern society’s ambivalence to nature and increasing consumerism.

The Moral Meaning of Wilderness represents a radical shift in Davila’s practice, whilst continuing to explore art’s relationship to nature, politics, identity and subjectivity in our post-industrial age. Davila pursues his exploration of the role of art as a means of social, cultural and political analysis. While many contemporary artists turned away from representation of the landscape, due to its perceived allegiance to outmoded forms of national identity and representation, Davila has recently sought to revisit and reconsider our surroundings au natural.

His paintings are, at first view, striking representations of nature. The paintings, created since 2003, are undertaken en plain air, a pre-modern technique based on speed of execution in situ, and the use of large scale canvases characteristic of history painting. He has also employed other techniques such as studio painting and representations of the landscape with reference to the sublime, the historical, memory and modernity.

Presented in association with Drill Hall Gallery, The Australian National University, and Griffith University Art Gallery.

Juan Davila - The Moral Meaning of Wilderness
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