Solitude not only heals, it galvanises and kindles.
And in a time when hurrying into a day filled with coffee and deadlines is the norm, a quiet cup of tea on the couch can be a countercultural act.
So Solitude can be creativity’s ground zero, where the first seeds are sown, and a harvest reaped at leisure. Wordsworth was onto something when he rhapsodised “I wandered lonely as a cloud” - in a few lines of extreme, lyrical simplicity he nails that moment when we witness in the wilderness of wandering something worth writing about. He sees ‘the host of golden daffodils’, he recentres, and, following his own maxim of ‘emotion recollected in tranquility’, later mints some of the most bullet proof poetry of the last 250 years.
Solitude too is the subject matter of Peter Davis’s collection of paintings, ‘Zeitgeist’, but these young people are not in touch with their poetic muse, rather they are totally distracted by digital devices. Depending on your age or outlook, these could work as cautionary images, moments of envy (Snapchat! Fortnite!), moments of simple communication, or a bit of meta-imagery. It is the latter that equips ‘Zeitgeist’ with a crucial poetic thrust.
Via Davis’ forensic observation and painterly mark making, a doubleness emerges. It is Painting and its analogue physicality that captures enthralldom to all things digital. It is Davis’ hand held skills, hewn from countless hours in the studio, that fixes the flickering ephemerality of pressing, swiping, saving, deleting. Unlike Wordsworth, Davis wields all of his prowess to immortalise not the world of universal aesthetics (flowers, trees, skies) but this new world of digital experience, where thrills, boredom, and communication intersect. This is Virtual Reality depicted in realistic painting.
It’s in the act of painting that something is reclaimed in these subjects. Our first impression of their drone-like focus on devices is expertly offset by Davis’ consummate brush strokes. The very heft of his palette and the marks he makes engenders in his subjects a quickening, bringing them to pulsing life, thus softening our initial reaction. This is the genius of Davis’ output. Perhaps there is after all poetry to be found in the simple joy of reaching for what is to many a direct line to expressing that 'something worth writing about', and for a generation from whom so much has been stolen, time spent on the Cloud is as healing as time wandering lonely as one.