The rich tradition of figurative painting can be traced back to prehistoric times as a way to portray and represent the artist’s surrounding culture. Infinite stylistic choices have animated the flatness of stone, paper, fabric or canvas to render scenes of adjacent worlds, encouraging viewers to enter, observe and learn from the subjects presented. It has become clear throughout the history of art that the brush holds power in its ability to tell a story, depict current times, or propose a future world, and it is the painters who are conscious of this power that approach their practice with careful attention to detail. The five paintings on display at Louis Buhl & Co. mark a significant point in the career of the artist Davariz Broaden. As a self-taught Detroit-based painter, his professional trajectory has grown quickly since he started exploring the medium in 2021. In just a few years, Broaden’s work has been exhibited locally and nationally as he has become increasingly recognized for his contemporary depictions of Black culture as well as the nostalgia of the Black experience. “One to Remember” is Broaden’s second solo exhibition with Louis Buhl & Co., functioning not only as his official debut into the world of artist representation but also into the world of large scale painting.
The collection of works in the wide and shallow Buhl gallery space envelops its guests with what seem like memories of a birthday celebration or a family reunion. Their scale alone allows for relatability as the nearly six feet tall canvases illustrate life-size figures, but in addition to this mirroring of proportions, we witness this party and its nuances as a tradition familiar to so many. The sky jumps from canvas to canvas like a panoramic photograph to enhance the impression of actually being there, while the muted color palette, gentle approach to paint application and unique drawing style combine to promote sensations of movement and life.
Prior to 2021, Davariz Broaden worked in other avenues of creative production. While studying Fashion Technology at Kent State University, he expressed a desire to emphasize and foster discussion surrounding the relationship between the past, present and future. Many aspects of Broaden’s current work seem to be continuing on that path. An assessment of his paintings from the beginning until now demonstrates an informed approach to composition and subject, recalling prominent African American artists from the modern era until now. Similar to artists like Kerry James Marshall, Amy Sherrald and Michalene Thomas, Broaden’s strong use of color, his contrasts between light and dark tones and his depictions of love and leisure in Black communities move the Black subject into a future where their main story is no longer of oppression but of autonomy and joy.
The titles of the paintings in “One To Remember” aid in keeping the mood of the show as light as a day at a park. The compositions are based on photographs of family and friends which has become an ongoing trend of Broaden and can be found in work by him that has been previously shown by Luis Buhl & Co., The Detroit Artists Market, M Contemporary in Ferndale, and a solo presentation at Future Art Fair with Medium Tings in New York City. Currently at Louis Buhl & Co., the Young All Stars are four boys wearing matching shirts posing quickly mid-motion. Birthdays & Block Parties shows a boy playing jump rope. Brothers pose with the Youngest of Four in a field with a forest of pine trees in the background. A little girl stays with her mom at the Grown Folks Table where the white styrofoam container emphasizes the mildly flattened perspective that is repeated from painting to painting within the artist’s practice. Broaden’s evolving awareness and comfort with painting has encouraged him to introduce oil to his originally all acrylic-based studio and the combination of the two seems to have even further influenced his already careful approach to textures, colors, fabrics and how they would respond to each other.
A child of Gen Z (born in 1999) Davariz Broaden holds a youthful perspective of everyday subject matter in this contemporary world. This point of view is valued by the curatorial team at Louis Buhl & Co. The Senior Director Alessandra Ferrara collaborated with Director Caroline Hinnant as well as JJ and Anthony Curis to introduce Broaden to professional strategies to forge and build a successful career as an artist, starting with inviting him to produce a unique series of works on paper and featuring him as an artist in their Salon Highlight initiative. Broaden is now represented by the gallery, who works with him as consultants as well as advocates and exhibitors of his work.
“One to Remember” by Davariz Broaden opened on July 8, 2023 at Louis Buhl & Co. and is on view until September 6, 2023.
Learn more about Louis Buhl & Co here: https://www.louisbuhl.com/