Born Santiago, Chile 1946, arrived Australia 1974
Juan Davila studied art and law in Chile before fleeing the Pinochet regime and relocating to Australia in 1974. Known for his strong social and political conscience, Davila’s paintings and prints frequently address the politics of important contemporary issues.
An iconoclast, Davila’s works are often irreverent, taking aim at tall poppies from Australian and international art history, politics and society. His unflinching representation of sexuality has produced some of the most controversial Australian artworks of the past three decades. Davila’s complex compositions frequently reference other artists and include appropriated imagery, collages and fragments of significant historical references, both in homage and in biting critique. Untitled (1994) is painted in the style of French artist Fernand Léger, and references that artist’s famous work, Nude on a red background (1927). Interpreted as a self-portrait, this work is characteristic of Davila’s questioning of gender and sexual boundaries. Enigmatically, Davila has signed the work ‘Juan Leger’.
Davila has exhibited extensively throughout Australia and in Chile. In 2006 a major retrospective of his work was presented by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and toured to the National Gallery of Victoria. His work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, several major state galleries, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.