Hitting the right note

Illustrator and satirist Paul Davis has discovered the ultimate accessible medium: the Post-It Note. Matthew Valentine visits the exhibition of his work

While we all doodle on Post-It Notes, they aren’t the obvious choice of medium for conventional artistic expression. But that hasn’t stopped illustrator and satirist Paul Davis, whose exhibition Post-It Note Drawings is currently on show at the Dazed & Confused Gallery on London’s Old Street.

Davis, who has kept his drawings simple, says of the exhibition: “The only tools used were pens, pencils, Post-It Notes, colour, people, transport systems, junk mail, the Internet, celebrity photos, advice books, encyclopedias, management systems, sexual perversions, information technology, drink, drugs, office supply catalogues, food, water, light-boxes, shelter, cars, love, lust, TV and a healthy dose of bathos.”

A suitably dazed and confused audience at last week’s private view of the results of this artistic experimentation had mixed opinions on the theme of the exhibition – which covers one large wall in stickers of various shape and colour. Their comments ranged from “Is it something to do with Diana and the millennium?” to “A woman… piercing a giant egg?”

With titles as diverse as Washing Your Penis, Spina Bifida, Dildo Lament and Sierra 1.8 LX, the audience confusion is quite understandable.

A fascination with newspaper columnists is also evident throughout the exhibition, with mini-portraits of Nick Cohen, Christina Odone and Omar Sharif (he writes a column on Bridge in the Observer), among others.

Davis describes the collection of works on show as representing the collected thoughts of a single day and, put in those terms, the choice of medium and content becomes understandable.

“Everybody uses Post-It Notes. Nobody is scared of them,” says Davis, making them, in his opinion, an ideal canvas. Similarly, the blurred scribbles of car outlines are there because: “They are everywhere. They are advertised everywhere.”

And the only newspaper columnists who are immortalised here in art (unless somebody accidentally screws up their portrait and throws it in the bin), are the ones whose columns appear complete with a picture byline, so their faces are familiar.

Considering how many times in any one minute, let alone a day, men are supposed to think about sex, Davis has been relatively restrained in that arena, with only around half of the drawings in the exhibition related to it in any way.

Above all, it is his humour – running from satire through to surrealism – which shows through in the work.

Admitting that the topics of a day’s thoughts include severed limbs, naked bodies and syphilis could be seen as a brave statement. But few at the private view questioned this. As one of the more perceptive visitors noted: “I didn’t realise that Post-It Notes came in so many colours. And with lines.”

Post-It Note Drawings runs until 4 October at the Dazed & Confused Gallery, 112-116 Old Street, London EC1.

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