Juan Davila

(Chile, Australia 06 Oct 1946 – )

Pre-Modern self-Portrait

Not on display
Further information

Davila has depicted himself, or a stand-in for himself, as the central figure draped in patterned fabric, wearing a string of pearls or beads and with a hair ornament. This figure recalls Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits, some of the most well known images from Latin American art. Kahlo’s relentless examination of self as image and self-image as identity lead to a revived interest in her practice in the 1980s. The examination of visual identity that occurred in 1980s photographic art, for example in the work of Cindy-Sherman, made Kahlo’s paintings seem prescient.

Tears drip from the central figure’s eyes. It is a melancholic image which suggests mourning, perhaps for failed revolutions or left-wing politics as a crossed hammer and sickle appear at the top of the border image and while on the right a fruiting and flowering vine appears, on the left the vine has withered and died. A smaller fat man has his arm around the main figure, perhaps comforting or perhaps dependent on the person. This fat man appears to be appropriated directly from the paintings of popular Colombian artist Fernando Botero. Behind the figures are a smoking industrial chimney and a draped flag with a star. Again, the failure of the utopian aspirations of left wing politics seems to permeate this work, made at a time when right wing politics seemed on the ascendant.

colour screenprint
124.0 x 80.0 cm
Rudy Komon Memorial Fund 2006
Accession number
Unable to display image due to copyright restrictions