© Peter Davies
This painting won first prize at the John Moores Painting Prize 22 in 2002. In his statement accompanying the work, Davies said:
"For some years I have been making text paintings alongside abstract paintings. Both types feed off and inform one another. The text paintings offer a playful and humorous take on my attempts to understand art history and contemporary art. In contrast to how text has often been used in contemporary art, most notably with conceptualism, I want my paintings to be visually seductive and enjoyable to look at, and whilst being serious, to convey a sense of fun and mischief. I have made text paintings on various themes, such as 'A to Zs' and 'Top 100s' of my favourite artists in different categories.
This painting was inspired by seeing the recent large Warhol show in Berlin and is one of a series where I have taken one key figure as a starting point and made a painting which resembles a flow chart or mind map. I am interested in the formal, visual result which comes from this way of organising information as a painting, and how by having words which make reference to the history of art can heighten the 'content' of a painting. I want to make paintings that combine the sensuality and beauty of formalism with the humour and toughness of conceptualism."
Davies’ painting draws on the example of gallery director and art historian Alfred Barr (1902 – 1981) and his iconic poster ‘Cubism and Abstract Art’ (1936), which sought to make visible the relationships that existed between the 20th centuries various art movements. Taking Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987) as his starting point, Davies’ explores in his painting the connections between the influential pop artist and a range of people, places and terms associated with high and low culture. Davies’ painting draws attention to the way that Warhol helped relocate gay and drag culture from the margins of society and in to the mainstream. Among the throng of ‘super stars’ are the terms ‘Advertising’, ‘American Dream’, and ‘Nightclubs’ as well as ‘Cross-dressing’, ‘Gay’ and ‘Camp’.