…The fairies do not live among the men. They live in trees and caves and bushes. They come out at night to dance and sing. The men know that there are fairies but are not sure if they have seen one or not. Only the faggots have seen them for sure. Sometimes the fairies dance and sing for the faggots and sometimes the faggots dance and sing for the fairies and sometimes, the best times, they dance and sing together. (55)
— Larry Mitchell, The Faggots & Their Friends Between Revolutions (1977)
I've been in TM Davy's Bushwick studio no more than 5 minutes, surrounded by his new paintings of technicolor fairy caves, when I ask if he's read The Faggots & Their Friends. He politely corrects me, "Uh yeah, I'm mentioned in it." Laughter. "The new printing. Because I did that thing [wrote a musical] with Morgan [Bassichis at The New Museum]. "Oh my god, duh," I reply, playing forgetful to mask my embarrassment and that familiar, metallic pang in the back of my throat: fucking FOMO.
Missing out on being in the audience for The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions The Musical, Pt. III is one of my sorest regrets of living in New York City—and it happened six years ago! Larry Mitchell's musings on queerness are canon and I often wish my New York City could look more like Ned Asta's wavy, sensuous illustrations. I snap back to the present moment and realize I am immersed in a psychedelic dimension of fluttering fairy wings, sexy cool-eyed satyrs, and little playful gremlin creatures TM refers to as his "tiny monsters." This is peak faggotry!
These paintings are entirely composed from the artist's imagination. Through years of meditation, breathwork, and group singing, Davy has allowed himself to "go there", leaping into a striking and serene fantasy land with this new body of work. Sure, they make their point as Paintings: a color-drenched allusion to the Three Graces; the tiny monsters (tm's) tumbling across canvases like Rubens' putti; the complex and particular execution of light and color in saturated primaries, striated down the walls of a cave or blended beautifully into skin. These paintings are lucid dreams, queer visions of refuge and survival. Every color is here and it is freedom, a joyful affront to the (art) world as we know it.
In The Faggots & Their Friends, fairies teach the faggots to honor nature's spirit of bounty above its ability to produce extractable resources. In turn, the faggots learn how to live in awe of nature and celebrate it through music, dance, and ritual. Many of Davy's new paintings depict just that with musical instruments resting in fairies' laps, hands held in gentle touch or clasped together in step, perhaps communal humming in prayer with the passing of a joint. "There's a feeling that you could join if you want", TM says about the larger paintings where figures are almost life-size, skin dusted in rainbow.
However, the figures are explicitly not portraits from life. Some forms only find their reference through TM's childhood diet of 80s fantasy worlds, like Jim Hensen's The Dark Crystal (1982) or Steven Spielberg's The Gremlins (1984). In these new paintings, fairy, satyr, tiny monster, and faggot alike are free to fuck, rest, and play together in stunning grottos and forest caves. Being supernatural, they are free from identities you and I might assume and free from earthbound suffering or catastrophe. In spite of this purely magical paradise, the invitation in each work is clear: that the best times, what will likely be our saving grace, are the times we dance and sing and come together. — Candystore, October 2023