Arts Features

'Dark Corners: The Appalachian Ballad'—by Julyan Davis exhibited at Greenville County Museum of Art

By April MacIntyre May 3, 2012, 23:32 GMT

'Dark Corners: The Appalachian Ballad'—by Julyan Davis exhibited at Greenville County Museum of Art

"Go and do the best you can"—Oil on canvas 60x72 Inspired by traditional folk song "Little Maggie," which is part of a family of white blues songs found in the Appalachian region in the late 1800s. "Little Maggie" has been recorded by artists including the Stanley Brothers, The Kingston Trio, Doc Watson, Bill Monroe and Ricky Skaggs.

An excellent art exhibit is happening in Greenville, South Carolina.

British artist Julyan Davis has painted the South for more than twenty years—empty rooms in abandoned mansions, state fairs, vanishing scenes from the Outer Banks to the Delta.

The Greenville County Museum of Art showcases his exciting new focus on Appalachian love songs and murder ballads.

This exhibit runs from May 5 through July 1st. It will continue to Morris Museum in Augusta Georgia.

From the release:

“Has love ever made you want to throw yourself off a bridge, or throw someone else off a bridge?” Davis asks. “These paintings interpret some of the South’s oldest songs, placing them in modern day settings to remind us that nothing really changes. Lovers still fall prey to despair and suicide, or end up in the crime report.”

Such music drew Davis to the South directly from art school in London. He’s brought its colorful culture and history alive on canvas ever since.

“Sometimes it takes an outsider to draw attention to the strangeness of the everyday,” Davis says, “The British director Ridley Scott made telephone poles beautiful in 'Thelma and Louise.'  That’s what I seek in my work: to find the sublime hidden in the familiar, the revelatory moment that comes at us without warning.

“As for the ballad series, well, this music is close to my heart.  I inherited an enthusiasm for it from my father.  With their Celtic origins, these songs have provided my connection to the Southern landscape since my arrival here half my life ago.”
 

Where the Sun refuse to shine—Oil on Canvas 40x64
Inspired by Dark Hollow, a song written around 1958 by West Virginian Bill Browning, front man of the rockabilly band Echo Valley Boys.  The song was made famous by the Grateful Dead in 1973.

"Where the Sun refuse to shine"—Oil on Canvas 40x64 Inspired by "Dark Hollow," a song written around 1958 by West Virginian Bill Browning, front man of the rockabilly band Echo Valley Boys. The song was made famous by the Grateful Dead in 1973.


 
Followers of Davis’ career describe his paintings as being haunted by a human presence—empty places that somehow told a story. With "Dark Corners" the power of his imagery, and the mystery of narrative are amplified in these large, cinematic canvases. “I paint my life,” Davis says, “Whether we write songs or paint pictures, as artists we have a great gift – an outlet for our emotions. I am grateful for that.”

Julyan Davis received his art training at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London. In 1988, having completed his B.A. in painting and printmaking, he traveled to the South on a painting trip that was also inspired by an interest in the history of Demopolis, Alabama and its settling by Bonapartist exiles.

His work has been exhibited from London to Los Angeles, and in many private, public and corporate collections including the Greenville County Museum of Art, the Gibbes Museum in Charleston and the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia. "Dark Corners:The Appalachian Ballad," along with other work, can be viewed at julyandavis.com.

By her lily white hand — on canvas 36x38
Inspired by 19th century murder ballad Banks of Ohio. The first recording of the song was by Red Pattersons Piedmont Log Rollers in 1927. It has been recorded many times since then by artists including The Carter Family, Pete Seeger, Johnny Cash, Porter Wagoner, Doc Watson, Joan Baez and Olivia Newton-John.

"By her lily white hand" — on canvas 36x38 Inspired by 19th century murder ballad "Banks of Ohio." The first recording of the song was by Red Patterson's Piedmont Log Rollers in 1927. It has been recorded many times since then by artists including The Carter Family, Pete Seeger, Johnny Cash, Porter Wagoner, Doc Watson, Joan Baez and Olivia Newton-John.

 

She looked East, She looked West— Oil on canvas 36x38
Inspired by traditional folk song, The Ballad of Barbara Allen. The song was first printed in England around 1750 and made its way to Appalachia in the mid-1800s. Barbara Allen, as it is also known, has been recorded by many artists including Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkle, The Grateful Dead, Dolly Parton and The Everly Brothers.  Johnny Cash re-wrote lyrics to the song, performed it live at Austin City Limits in 1987 and renamed it The Ballad of Barbara.

"She looked East, She looked West"— Oil on canvas 36x38 Inspired by traditional folk song, "The Ballad of Barbara Allen." The song was first printed in England around 1750 and made its way to Appalachia in the mid-1800s. "Barbara Allen," as it is also known, has been recorded by many artists including Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkle, The Grateful Dead, Dolly Parton and The Everly Brothers. Johnny Cash re-wrote lyrics to the song, performed it live at Austin City Limits in 1987 and renamed it "The Ballad of Barbara."

 

 

 

 



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