Exhibition of Paintings
by Gerald Davis
February 18th - March 12th 2005
Notes by Ray Comiskey
"If you subscribe to the rumours that have been doing the rounds for years, you may well believe that Gerald Davis is a painter, gallery owner, founder of Livia Records, jazz fan and, inter alia, sometime broadcaster and stand-in for Leopold Bloom. But if you do, to accept such a description, even from himself - and he's rumoured to be the source of these rumours - is merely to submit to the tyranny of fact.
The reality is much more interesting. There is, for example, the skewed logic he can apply to most pedestrian of observations. Once, when I was sounding off indignantly to him about a woman who had written a book about the joys of celibacy in marriage, the very thought of which makes me shudder and reach for the port, he asked, rhetorically; "What's the world coming to?"
"Yes," I said, thinking that was the end of the discussion. It wasn't.
"Just imagine," he went on. "You could be walking down the Reeperbahn in Hamburg and what would you see in the porn clubs? Public displays of celibacy."
With a mind like that, it's no surprise to learn that he's a devout fan of such one-offs as the great Jewish comedian, Jackie Mason, and the lugubrious Scottish wit, Ivor Cutler, who raids the dictionary to find obscure words for everday actions and bodily functions and then puts them to surreal and excruciatingly funny use.
Like them, Gerald has a way of not quite turning logic on its head, but of subverting it and letting you see the absurdities of life, love and the quirks of human behaviour. And though it's usually done gently, it takes an unblinking insight into human nature to do it at all. Perhaps that's why he also reveres the work of Joyce and Beckett. He has an affinity with them that goes beyond the humour - and both are incredibly funny writers - to something deeper and more profound.
On the grounds that I might incriminate myself I'm not going to say what that might be. But I do know, from personal experience, that his insights have enlightened and helped me when I most needed them, even though his advice usually comes with the gloves off. "Either micturate of get off the pot," he told me once at a crucial point in my life (we're both indebted to Ivor Cutler for finding that word, by the way - and, by the way, I did take Gerald's advice and micturate, metaphorically speaking).
He is, therefore, the kind of friend who doesn't pull his punches when he tells you things you don't want to hear. Only rarely have I had the pleasure of reciprocating - he's far wiser and more insightful than I am - but once or twice I have had the lip-smacking satisfaction of telling him he was a couple of tubes short of a full palette. Naturally, he didn't agree - until each time, a few days later, he rang up and said "you're right".
Of the grubbier recesses of his life and personality I can only give tantalising hints. There is, for example, the bizarre links between him, Thomas Pynchon's novel, Gravity's Rainbow, and a prominent member of a section of the medical profession. Even murkier, however, are the connections between him, An Post, and hairy pieces of string. But if you think I'm going to shed a light on these and other dark corners of his psyche, dream on. I am, after all, his friend.
I'm saving them for the book..."
Ray Comiskey, 2005