THIS X THAT and the MAK Center for Art & Architecture presented a site-specific installation by artist Paul Davies at the Fitzpatrick-Leland House in Los Angeles on June 7-25, 2017. The exhibition concluded with a party in support of the MAK Center, and a conversation between artist Paul Davies and Aaron Betsky, Dean of Taliesin West at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.
The installation featured recently completed paintings, bronze sculptures, and photograms that activate the Rudolph Schindler-designed Fitzpatrick-Leland House in the Hollywood Hills.
The Fitzpatrick-Leland House was originally created on spec as a model for a real estate developer, a forerunner of many a dwelling built into the hillsides of Los Angeles. Davies’ paintings and bronze screens follow its model-home roots. By using the stencil to reproduce and superimpose elements of architecture and landscape—light, color, abstraction—Davies transposes alternate realities upon the house, layer by layer.
The nature of Schindler’s architecture can be read through a series of interlocking volumes that radiate from a central axis, as well as through the different vantage points carved out by those volumes. Like the house, Davies’ paintings frame expansive views that express the tension between the rationality of architecture and the freedom of abstraction, suggesting less obvious ways of experiencing the house.
Reflecting the influence of mentor Frank Lloyd Wright, the house also exemplifies Schindler’s practice of bringing the natural environment into interior space. In opposition, therefore, to the notion of modern architecture’s austerity, the relationship between the interior and the exterior—through its continuity—is complicated once again by Davies who layers stencils of alternative landscapes to disrupt the boundaries between built and natural environments.
Davies exploration of Schindler’s Fitzpatrick-Leland House is ultimately expansive rather than reductive. Through paintings and sculpture that challenge the relegation of Modernism to the time and place in which it was built, his work softens the edges of a classic Schindler house, taking the most important aspects of its design and context and allowing them a moment in the present.