Walter Davanzo

Ennio Pouchard

Walter Davanzo, painter, photographer, designer from Treviso, was born in 1953, under the sign of Pisces and in accordance with astrologists, he is nomadic, makes snap decisions, undergoes frequent changes, sometimes radical ones, all of which may at times confuse those around him. On one hand however, this does not detract from his willingness towards impulse and sacrifice and on the other hand, his need to passionately defend his liberty to be and to act, especially in regards to his art, guided and upheld by his own memories, but also by a sense of universal truth that resonates in the minds of others.

Memory to him recalls distant emotions and sensations. His truth makes him coherent with his own thoughts. On one hand there is the past that must not be forgotten and that he conjures up without recrimination (“…in the end everything that matters will never leave us” I find written in one of his notes) and at the same time there is that indefinable quality that allows him to reinterpret with disenchantment what progressively reemerges. He does it with violent colored brushstrokes (cadmium red, orange, every possible shade of blue and acid green) that many believe evoke the full bodied quality of expressionism; but it is the spirit that animates his art, instilling a freshness frequently permeated by a subtle irony and rhythms that, even in his monumental works, allow us to perceive how the painter investigates his questions, impulses, fantasies, fairytale like worlds, sentiments, attachments. In the biography of the many catalogues that Davanzo has published up to now, he makes reference to a variety of painters that have struck him: Bacon, Munch Manguin, Varlin, Matissse, Van Dongen, Vlaminick, each one certainly has left their mark, but no one in particular has impinged his creativity.

There are other circumstances that have contributed to the formation of his unique artistic persona: his travels, especially in Germany, France and Mediterranean Africa; his dreams, tied to his father, an aviator who died when he was 12, the rush to interrupt his university studies at 20 and dedicate himself to photography and painting, concentrating on exhibiting his work .The subject of his paintings: planes, urban landscapes, beaches, dogs, portraits, nudes, women’s legs, men’s legs, children’s legs. He has always developed these subjects by working in series, to which he commits long term. In these he loves to introduce both incongruity, such as a pilot in his uniform, not seated in a cockpit, but rather in a armchair in a posh living room, as well as humorous elements such as a dog sitting in a little coffee cup whose woeful look hints at his existential hardships. What is also natural for him is his insistence in adopting diverse techniques from collage to graphic media as supported by his use of unusual objects (antique maps, musical scores, newspapers, faded posters) carriers of an unprecedented, happy vibrancy.

His latest works conjure up images from his past; we still see the figure of the father he idolized, the school he hated, a group of schoolmates, and the recurrent figure of a laundromat attendant. What links all of these figures together is the artist himself who at times cannot resist the temptation to become an actor in his painting: there he is transformed into a white rabbit (he says) in front of a group of children dressed as bunny rabbits in black costumes ready for a school play; and popping out as a child dressed as Batman behind a seemingly disinterested couple sitting on a sofa at the Venice Biennale, while the title poses the question: What are you doing just sitting there?