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Davis-Dutreix, Reflecting Upon the Human Condition

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

Pierre Davis Dutreix, Symbolic Art

Born in Miami in 1954, Davis Dutreix is a pivotal figure in 90s French underground art and squart culture. With the tradition of symbolic art and with a vivid palette, he prompts reflection on the human experience.


Embarking on a Spiritual Odyssey

In the vivid tapestry of life, one often stumbles upon profound moments that lead to a transformative quest. At the tender age of 17, Pierre Davis Dutreix encountered such a pivotal moment when he survived a harrowing car accident, setting the stage for a lifelong exploration of spirituality. It was during this period that he serendipitously uncovered the profound teachings of Zen Buddhism, a guiding light that would remain steadfast throughout his artistic odyssey.

The 1970s found him amidst the bustling streets of New York, where his artistic education intersected with the formation of his potent political consciousness. A remarkable initiatory sojourn to South America in the 1980s marked a pivotal chapter, as it was here that Davis Dutreix commenced drawing alongside creatives challenging a repressive dictatorship. This marked the inception of his artistic journey that would resonate with defiance and innovation.

Life in the Squarts

The 1990s saw Davis Dutreix immerse himself in the realm of radical artistry and collages, an era characterized by his serendipitous encounters within the Parisian squats, affectionately referred to as "squarts" – a portmanteau of "squat" and "art." It was during this time and amidst this creative tapestry that he embarked on his own artistic foray, experimenting with the vibrant medium of painting. Collaborations with fellow avant-garde artists eventually led to the establishment of the groundbreaking ‘Zen Copyright’ gallery, carried out in tandem with Eduardo, a Parisian performer, and SP38, a renowned international figure in street art. This momentous juncture marked the birth of the 'Zen Copyright' collective, a force that actively engaged in the socio-political events of its time.

With exhibitions that popped up in the streets, at events, or within the concert halls hosting luminaries like Rita Mitsouko, Brigitte Fontaine, and Nonnes Troppo, Davis- Dutreix and the collective left an indelible imprint on the urban landscape. It was during this chapter that he forged a profound connection with Le Bateleur, a kindred spirit who tragically passed away in 1995. Simultaneously, the inception of a new collective, 'La Grange aux Belles,' heralded a period of fervent creativity. Their Squart, became a hub for organizing events for the common good, a sanctuary before their eventual eviction in 2000.

Awakening the Senses: A Manifesto for Art

Art should not be passive, intellectual or elitist, it must awaken in the viewer a feeling that makes them think about the human condition.

Davis Dutreix was resolute in his belief that art should never be a passive or elitist endeavor, nor merely an intellectual pursuit. Instead, he championed a philosophy that called for art to stir profound emotions within the observer, provoking contemplation of the human condition. In this vision, art was a catalyst for transformation, an embodiment of activism and introspection.

Time of Maturity

Davis-Dutreix briefly returned to New York, where he opened the 'off gallery' then settled in Nice, in a workshop/squat 'les devils bleus' from 2000 to 2004, the date of the expulsion. In 2004, he opened a new squart in Nice, in the old town: le Pigeonnier. He finally finds the time to settle down and unfold on canvas.

Each work is like a part of the world imagined and sketched during all the preceding years, we find there all the power of Davis-Dutreix colors and the richness of the symbolic vocabulary.

Text written with the collaboration of Atelier Franck Michel, Nice

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