Every Fiber of My Being

Shuriya Davis

April 30–May 2, 2024

For Mississippi-based artist Shuriya Davis, portraiture is a starting point, not a final form. Their acrylics-on-canvas—high-contrast, thickly layered, and enigmatic—jettison the fixtures of legible identity to make way for multivalent affects. A teal-headed figure, hands to an unseen wall. A person with their face pressed into their knees—in play or sadness, it’s not clear. A reclined figure, legs spread, breasts rendered not unlike a de Kooning. In Every Fiber of My Being, Davis’s figures don’t stand apart from any background, and are freed from spatial hierarchies—at least those we are trained to recognize. Subject and situation are gestural and dense. Form and expression merge. Depth lies in the surface of things.

For Every Fiber of My Being, Davis began by studying fashion photography, collated on Instagram, in which poses acted as icons of emotion. Whereas the generalized emotionality of editorial and commercial photography doesn’t traffic in ambivalence, Davis’s portraits de-specify these figures, pushing them to embody ambiguities. Davis also worked with images of artists they know or are inspired by—Tug references a picture of Wu Tsang and works on paper depict the DJ Total Freedom. While in these works, his face approaches something more like an individuated identity, his image and situation are still shaped by a shifting of colors that in turn hold form. In these paintings, as in our lives, there’s no certainty, no closure or neat slotting into received narratives, but instead the gleefully challenging complexity of subjecthood and subjectivity.

Shuriya Davis (b. 1996, Alabama) lives and works in Byram, Mississippi. They received an MFA from Mills College, Oakland in 2022 and a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design in 2018. STARS has held solo exhibitions of their work in 2024 and 2021. Their work has been included in recent group exhibitions at Jan Kaps, Cologne; Derosia, New York; Nahmad Contemporary, New York; The Warehouse, Dallas; and Bureau, New York. 

Special thanks to S& Projects.