LOUUC Art Gallery

Refugees: New Work by Gus Davis explores picture-memory and image proliferation in the current socio-political climate.


Opening Friday, May 19th, 6-9pm. Exhibition runs May 19th—July 15th, 2017.



In Refugees, Davis presents a body of work that uses the worldwide refugee crisis as a point of departure to explore the relationship between image, memory, and empathy. These works temper what might otherwise be found as overly-loaded or sensationalist imagery by replacing overt contextualizing details with emotionally charged, often gestural abstraction — these refugees could be from anywhere, from anytime, but we still feel that we know who they are, and are perhaps more sympathetic to their human condition than we might otherwise be to more identifiable groups. In this way, Davis strikes at the heart of empathy and the hypocrisy of our own cold rationalizations to withhold that empathy from groups we have been overexposed to through standard forms of media. Further building on this approach, Davis has implemented an unusual naming system for his works; in lieu of titles each painting in the series is assigned a numbered poem from Rene Char’s work Hypnos (1943-44), written in France during the time of Nazi occupation.



Gus Davis is a prolific Austin based painter producing work almost exclusively from memory. The artist mentally collages images gleaned from news, social media, day-to-day existence, and his work as an active community member and political activist, then intentionally lets these mental images shift on their own, stewing from the time of original exposure to his eventual return to the studio before rematerializing them on the canvas. The results are stirring images of discernable (at times even familiar) landscapes, objects, and figures abstracted through the lens of memory and through amplification of certain formal characteristics: tone, composition, broad shape, darkness and light. This abstraction provides a foil for weight of the subject, allowing the viewer to linger with an image or idea longer than they might had it been absorbed through other methods of delivery.


“So many people need sanctuary right now, which is why I feel that the venue is so important to this work. Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church in Cedar Park is free from anti-LGBTQ harassment, from the escalating oppression of immigrants, and a place where the barriers of discrimination and prejudice are resisted on a daily basis. Though LOUUC is particularly welcoming to all people, I believe that (at least for this issue) such places broadly may be able to break through political distinctions and remind us of our shared struggle and responsibility to one another as humans. If my work does nothing else, I hope that it at least adds to that noble impetus.”                          -Gus Davis