Through his giant installations in New Delhi, Alex Davis remembers the roadside automobile workshops, which were once a significant part of the streetscape but now on their way out.

Factors such as the medium or discipline can hardly be deterrents to a creative expression. At the central is the idea which must be explored and communicated weaving a unique visual vocabulary. Alex Davis straddles the world of design and art with ease because his mind and hands are adept at both. “At some point design and art merge. If you look at the history of art, there were no distinctions. Earlier, artists were doing different things, they were designers, engineers etc.,” says Delhi-based Davis. Art, he says, offers him a more personal space and creative independence.

He is now showcasing his latest set of art works in the Capital in a solo presented by the Apparao Galleries called “Dented and Painted”. The artist like so many others has taken a recourse to the streets of India to create five sculptures that takes one back to the narrow alleys, roadside workshops and anonymous workers. |

Dying craft

“The whole idea of cutting a metal sheet into small parts and then melding them together fascinates me. It's all handwork. The layering of colours is also very interesting. You can easily see through these layers, the worn out colours and different layers, the patina of aging…” elaborates Davis, who through this collection pays a tribute to the dying craft of denting and painting automotives. The slick and technology-laced car service stations have sounded the death knell for the roadside workshops.

Davis uses the popular signs and symbols, motifs taken from the back of the trucks, auto rickshaws to recreate the smells and sights of our streets through giant installations of signs like OK, STOP and lotus motifs. Sheet metal, high gloss, paint finishes are the material used to make the works. Ironically, the pieces whose inspiration lies in the streets, in everyday lives, are not being displayed at a public space but at a very exclusive plush hotel, The Aman in Lodi Road. “As much as I would like to put them up in a public space and even if they are metallic, they still need some kind of protection. Also, a gallery like Visual Arts Gallery isn't easily available and not for long durations,” clarifies Davis, who has had his last three shows in VAG. The artist is in talks with the Delhi Government for some public art projects. He also runs a chic design store with his partner Pankaj Verma called the Indi store in Shahpur Jat.

(The exhibition is on at the Apparao Galleries, The Aman, Lodi Road till January end)