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The Evolution of Creativity

The Evolution of Creativity

(Taken in part from the writings of Donald Smith.)

At the Central School of Art & Design, where he studied under Adrian Berg, David’s work was almost entirely abstract, influenced by the New York School and Bonnard. We have amazing photos of David and his friend photographing his works whist hanging them like posters from his parent’s bedroom windows. At one point he came to ground level ….

Even after art school, David returned to abstraction, but dissatisfaction with the abstract conventions prompted him to experiment with figurative drawing and watercolours.

At his home in Highgate, David’s studies of the back garden around the house marked a transition from watercolours to oils. Taken as a whole, the garden paintings reveal the development of David’s craft and the intensifying of his vision.

One is struck in the garden sequence by the painstaking attention to detail, moving at points beyond photorealism to an almost surreal perspective. This is no visual pedantry, for the evocation of detail is justified and enhanced by the artist’s sense of light. It is natural light, he implies which enables objects to attain their heightened existence.

The back garden studies are also full of shade. They contain areas of coolness and receding perspectives as if the very vegetation harboured an inner mystery. David described these garden paintings as his inner world. In them, whilst exercising his technique, David forged a distinctive personal relationship with the visual world, a subtle combination of psyche and perception.

David’s portraits, by contrast, represent his outward gaze towards human beings and society. But what makes these portraits exceptional is the artist’s ability to penetrate the superbly rendered appearance of the sitter to capture in the subject the sort of inwardness which he himself values. The early portrait of Robert Rooke represents a peak in this blending of the objective and the subjective. Its display at the National Portrait Gallery led to a large number of commissions and urged David firmly down the path of portraiture.

By age 34, David was producing some of his most potent images.

He had also completed his pièce de résistance, a major figurative composition “Doug Murray Playing at the Angel – Highgate”. This massive painting formed the centrepiece at his second one-man exhibition in Edinburgh 1984.

The scale of the painting is in a sense dictated by the richness of the visual recreation, but the detail is in turn contained and ordered by a firm compositional structure. Everyone has reacted in their own way to this unusual and exciting painting, but no-one should miss the near allegorical significance of the musician, the artist turned away from the social crowd. The musician is ignored, but at the same time his music underpins and creates the whole occasion. David’s most popular painting in print form, the “Jazz Pianist” as we know it led the path to an amazing portfolio of work.

David’s love of large works has never left him – since 1984…

to David signing La Bastide in 1988

to posing with Brenda in front of her full length portrait in 2005

This article has been written to guide you through David’s works with new insight… so browse the new website and enjoy!



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