David Humphrey never makes the same painting twice. Each individual canvas is a story unto itself. Sometimes these are happy tales, surreal musings, or conflicted confrontations. Although they can be sexual in nature, the weird power dynamic of relationships between people and how we communicate with each other, as well as with an artwork itself is examined in “I’m Glad We Had This Conversation.” Shopping, 2015, features an almost schematically designed couple in a dressing room, with the pink dress of the woman sexualized by the addition of pubic hair and nipples rendered on the exterior of her attire. By highlighting the mundane ritual of purchasing clothes with a partner in tow, Humphrey creates a compelling story out of an everyday occurrence. The figures and the architecture of the space are broken down into a design of bold, colorful shapes, making one rethink the importance of what it means to be a consumer interacting with another in this longstanding act, which could soon be passé due to virtual reality.
In Swimmer, 2016, a standing male and female couple partially obscured by a stereotypical brick wall share a seemingly lighthearted moment. Rendered in a somewhat cartoony shorthand, the male’s swimsuit rides loose on his hips, revealing a plumber’s crack above his buttocks, as the woman emits a carefree laugh. Or is she laughing at him? We can’t see the front of the man’s body. Shrinkage? Again, Humphrey focuses on a private interaction between two individuals, but gives weight to the apparent awkwardness that takes place and revels in its inescapability. For Recharge, 2016, a lone figure is seen sleeping face-first on a couch, while an abstract jumble of line and color takes over the top part of the canvas. In this case, the dialogue exists between oneself, a necessary step to furthering intellectual curiosity or just maintaining the status quo. Several painted sculptures of plaster and wood rest on pedestals, including Couple, 2016, whose rough-hewn form recalls a more elemental being, although the needs and desires of which may mirror our own.
David Humphrey, “I’m Glad We Had This Conversation,” Fredericks & Freiser, January 19 — February 25, 2017.