Horses have appeared throughout the course of art history to a multitude of effects, from ceramic votives in ancient Chinese burial sites to European hunting and battle scenes. In recent memory, they have been coopted in popular culture by the ultra feminine Lisa Frank and My Little Pony brands. “Horses” a show of new paintings by New York–based artist TM Davy (b. 1980), seems to draw on several of these traditions. Five monumental paintings are supplemented by several smaller works, all featuring the noble steed.
A painting in the front gallery shows a black stallion and her foal standing parallel to one another in a stall. Light streams in from a window, spreading a rainbow across the pair. The work is slightly too serious to be an homage to Frank, whose hokey school supply products gripped the hearts of ’90s tweens. The generational theme of mother and foal present in several paintings in the show hints at the origins of this body of work. On the back of an old photograph, Davy discovered that his great-great-great-grandfather founded a livery stable at the gallery’s Chrystie Street location in the late nineteenth century. The loveliest and most mysterious piece shows an Arabian horse wearing blinders in a stall with a salt lick. Its sleek fur is rendered in opalescent tones, perfectly capturing the mutable beauty and grace of an animal that here symbolizes history and continuity. —Julia Wolkoff
Pictured: TM Davy: horses (xo), 2016, oil on linen, 79 by 99 inches. Courtesy 11R Gallery, New York.