Noah Davis, 32, Artist and Founder of Underground Museum in Los Angeles, Dies
Noah Davis, in an undated photo, founded the Underground Museum in Los Angeles. Credit Ed Templeton
Noah Davis, a painter and installation artist who founded the Underground Museum, an exhibition space in a working-class neighborhood of Los Angeles that provides free art shows, died on Saturday at his home in Ojai, Calif. He was 32.
He learned he had cancer a few years ago, his family said in confirming the death.
Mr. Davis’s paintings were mostly figurative works depicting blacks in surreal landscapes, sometimes with their features distorted or smeared in a manner reminiscent of Francis Bacon. He drew inspiration from sources as varied as Richard Brautigan’s 1968 novella “In Watermelon Sugar” and “The Jerry Springer Show.”
“The palette is very moody and evocative, and he has an extraordinary ability to convey emotional effect,” Helen Molesworth, the chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, said by telephone Tuesday.
Mr. Davis founded the Underground Museum with his wife, the artist Karon Davis, in 2012 (they had married in 2008) in a row of storefronts in the Arlington Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. Mr. Davis organized eclectic shows there like “The Oracle,” which combined sculptures by Henry Taylor, 19th-century carvings from Sudan and a video installation by his brother, the video artist Kahlil Joseph. The work, titled “m.A.A.d,” is a 15-minute paean to the Compton neighborhood of Los Angeles set to the music of Kendrick Lamar.