ARTIST Daveena Cox says emotional surges that drive us forward can sometimes make us look like ducks: all serene on the surface but paddling like mad underneath.
“I guess I became an artist because I felt a deep need to bring what was inside to the surface,” she told the Herald. “The stuff you don’t have words for. And then there’s a longing for something more.
“And anything in my life can be fodder for drawing. Afloat. Adrift. Buoyant. These words can equally be used to describe a person’s passage through life.”
The Beaconsfield local’s exhibition Not a Still Life, which runs at the Moores until March 10, continues her ongoing exploration into the human condition.
She says her works are “small soap operas” as they investigate what it means to be human. Cox jokes they are anything but a still life.
“Of course there is a pun because it’s not that other genre of drawing,” she says.
“And my drawing is more about the changeability and uncertainty of life.
“But also it’s appropriate to the energetic way I describe people and their predicaments. They are not glossy billboard people, perfect and frozen but peoples whose heroic struggles involve clotheslines and laundry baskets.
“A slightly more theatrical version of you, me and the folk next door.”
Cox’s drawings are energetic, colourful and bold. Using mainly oil pastel, ink and pencil, she uses a razor to scrape back layers of paint to reveal colours and textures.
In keeping with her theme, “things are not what they seem on the surface”, Cox wants to challenge visitors to unravel narrative.
“Viewers are invited to make their own interpretation. Some of the characters are quite whimsical, others smirk or are sardonic, another is pained and a few even approach serenity,” she says. “Once I have finished them they are open to others’ interpretation.”
Cox says she is, “endlessly fascinated by the differences in people”.
“We are social animals—so how is it that we are at greater risk from each other than from anything else?” she asks. “There is always more need than there is compassion. A little more greed than sense. And all the while you can feel more lonely in company than by yourself.
“But as that song goes ‘people who need people are the luckiest people in the world’. . .and so the vulnerability continues.”
Cox has taught life-drawing at the Claremont School of Art for years but this is her first solo show.
“Life-drawing is a practical response to the model—and I enjoy drawing the human figure—but creating works about my inner world is difficult; it’s personal, it’s emotional and these drawings have taken me many years to create.”
by BRENDAN FOSTER