Guyanese artist Victor Davson opened his exhibit “Full Circle” on Wednesday, a collection of work, that spans 30 years of his artistic career and will be in place until Oct. 16 in the Kresge and Pascal Galleries. In the spirit of Ramapo College’s extensive history and collection of Caribbean art, three of the five bodies of work done by Davson are reflections of life and culture in Guyana.
“A cavalcade of imagery is offered, from the earlier accomplishments in formal abstraction, to pieces informed with literary and political references, to the layered imagery from the popular culture seen in the ‘Dub Factor: Heroes’ album cover series. Loose narratives touching upon his youth in Guyana are peppered throughout,” said Sydney Jenkins, director of the Ramapo College art galleries.
Since moving to the United States in 1973, Davson has resided in Newark and cofounded the prestigious Aljira Contemporary Art Center in the city. One of the collections on display, the “Chain Link Series,” pays homage to the city that Davson has seen flourish from a dilapidated area to a place now experiencing a cultural revival.
“I fell in love with Newark the first time I entered on Raymond Boulevard. It was a beautiful thing with burnt out bulbs,” Davson expressed during a question and answer session held during the gallery’s opening.
In “Notational Works,” Davson presents massive geometric charcoal drawings that he began working on in the early 1980s. These pieces boast Davson’s precision and understanding of the abstract form.
Moving into the nostalgic and anti-colonial sentimentality of Caribbean politics, Davson presents three collections strongly rooted in his Guyanese upbringing and memories. “Limbo/Anansi” features 36 large pieces inspired by writer Wilson Harris and his ideas about the mythical Anansi, a character identified by its mischievous nature. “Bad Cow Comin’” is a vibrant collection of realistic portraits that reflect on Guyanese celebrations of Christmas and the collective resilience of the people. Most recently, the “Dub Factor” series shows the artist’s paintings over vinyl album covers, as well as the inclusion of rice, a staple food in Guyana and one with significant cultural meaning.
The gallery has been beautifully oriented so that a viewer can witness Davson’s vacillating style between abstract and figuration, as well as the thematic differences between his bodies of work. The works are varietal and eye-catching and offer perspective into a culture that is seldom talked about in the United States.
“The work of art is to set itself to work,” the bespectacled artist reflected.