Brandon Davis Launches Pop-Up Art Show in Beverly Hills

Brandon Davis - Getty - H 2016
Getty Images

Brandon Davis - Getty - H 2016

The venture from the oil heir, grandson of former 20th Century Fox owner Marvin Davis, features works by Mexican artist Bosco Sodi in his L.A. debut, "Malpais."

At Brandon Davis Projects’ inaugural show you might think there’s mud on the wall, but it’s really the work of Mexican artist Bosco Sodi. Davis, the grandson of former 20th Century Fox owner and oil tycoon Marvin Davis and Hollywood philanthropy doyenne Barbara Davis, has seen his share of mudslinging; worth an estimated $55 million, he has a long history as a hard-partying Beverly Hills playboy. In his 20s, he partied regularly with Paris Hilton, dated Mischa Barton for a year, and, though sometimes known as Fat Elvis or Greasy Bear, dubbed Lindsay Lohan “Firecrotch.” He returned to Twitter in 2012 after an absence by announcing: “back on twitter u f—ing peasants #urpoor.” 

In recent years he has kept out of the media, if you don’t count the fiery crash that consumed his Mercedes sports car last autumn, leaving him relatively unscathed except for a citation for DUI. Now, with the launch of Bosco Sodi "Malpais," in collaboration with collector Jose Mestre, curator Matthew Schum and Paul Kasmin Gallery, on view Aug. 25 through Oct. 8 at 143 N. Robertson Blvd., Davis appears to be turning over a new leaf.

“I love Bosco’s work. It reminds me of Yves Klein, an artist I grew up loving, and it has its own feel. It’s unique in its own way,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m just following my passion. I’ve been an art collector for many years. I’ve been transitioning into the launch of Brandon Davis Projects. I see an opportunity to bring artists that don’t have representation to L.A. and to potential other cities.”

Friends since 2011, Sodi and Davis often talked about working together, but things got real when Mestre and Paul Kasmin Gallery entered the picture, resulting in Sodi’s first L.A. show. “It’s very interesting what is happening in Los Angeles, how the East Coast is moving to the West Coast. I would love to come back and stay for a season and work here,” says the Mexican native, who divides his time between New York City and Oaxaca.

Known for vibrant, large-scale acrylic paintings early in his career, Sodi, 45, gradually became preoccupied with texture as a way of emphasizing theme. Turning away from acrylic, he created his own materials by combining pigment, sawdust, wood pulp and glue sourced from wherever he was working at the time, making the canvases specific to their place of origin.

“I have different-sized canvases set up and I get there and I decide what color, what canvas. I only do what I feel. It’s very organic,” Sodi says of a process that leaves a lot to impulse and atmospheric conditions that will govern the way each piece cracks as it dries. “Each work cracks very differently and in the end you have a certain number of factors that you cannot control. So the results are unique with each work. You never know what you’re going to get in the end.”

His current sculptures, some of which are included in the show, involve handcrafted cubes of clay measuring a half a meter, dug from the ground of Oaxaca and stacked in columns. In a gallery show that just closed in Berlin, he expanded into large-scale installations incorporating the cubes and object paintings, as well as glazed red and gold lava from Mexico’s Ceboruco volcano. Upcoming exhibits include two 2017 retrospectives in Mexico City.

“It’s important to engage with people who look at your work,” says Sodi, who owes his L.A. debut to his friend Davis. “He wanted to build something. I think he’s going to do a good job.”

Davis, who turns 36 on Sep. 2, is learning as he goes and has plans for future shows. “It’s been a very cool experience. I can see what goes into everything and every different angle, and it’s exciting to completely see how everything fits in and comes together.”