Painter Davia King has always courted the liminal space in between engaged attention and a sort of trance. In her signature style of making works for wall and canvas, King employs a technique of automatic drawing, reminiscent of the surrealist parlor games of the 20th-century avant-garde, in which she uses instinct and a kind of second sight, not looking at the canvas while she draws, to guide her single-line “blind contour” method. King describes this process as one of “capturing a visual interpretation of creative energy … allowing the composition to take on a life of its own.” Applied over prepared grounds of luminous color and vibrating, cosmic patterns, the work is quirky, surreal, intuitive, bright and expressionistic — and a lot of fun to watch when she performs it for a crowd.
Then this happened. King was in a terrible car wreck, and she woke up on the other side of the consciousness divide into which she’d been peering in her practice. What she realized, aside from her guardian angel deserves a raise, is that it’s all as beautiful as she's imagined. In “Reborn,” King’s current solo exhibition at Ewkuks Gallery, she exhibits new work that speaks directly to the fresh perspective that comes with getting a second chance. There’s nothing like surviving life-threatening events to focus the mind and inspire a more contemplative stance toward the meaning of it all.
The new body of work is both more empathetic and more personal than ever. Somehow esoteric and physically grounded at the same time, King retrains her comfort with chance and uncertainty into a more existentially exuberant style, with more of herself in the story. Feeling in greater touch with volatile life forces and increasingly intentional in spreading a message of appreciation and joy, King uses her comfort with spirit-guided ambiguity, trust and faith as a platform for a colorful deep dive into how those dynamics play out in life and in art.
REBORN runs through April 30 at Ewkuks Gallery, 527 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax District; (323) 452-0029. Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.