I came across David’s paintings a few years ago on the web and immediately found they made me curious. Thin paint, but painterly, a very strong emphasis on the edge of the canvas, gridded into the matrix of the picture plane; and heavenly colour, usually mixed with white, so quite soft and opaque.

I then saw his work in a show called Fade Away in 2010 at Cathy Lomax’s Transition Gallery, a space that punches way above its weight and has become a mecca for youngish painters. His paintings, and those of Helen Turner, Phillip Allen, Mali Morris, Nick Carrick and Sarah Douglas stood out for me. This was a show that celebrated the materiality of paint and I wished I had been included.

Most recently, in the late autumn of 2012, David has had a solo show at Transition called Tourist Smoking Room. These paintings were so beautiful, and at the same time  disquieting, that  I felt…here is a painter who is going places. So fresh. No one seems to be painting like him much, except for some of the painters mentioned above and some current and ex-students who, while grappling for subject matter, have a rich ‘devil may care’ touch that comes with the bravado of youth.

Suez Pyramid 2012 acrylic on canvas 22x17cm
Suez Pyramid, 2012. Acrylic on canvas, 22x17cm

Great titles, such as Nova Scotia, Copper Coloured Island, Pachyderm,  David’s paintings for me wonderfully straddle figuration and abstraction. They hot-wire one into imagining a narrative. They seem to me to be distillations of events and memories of events come at second hand, and have a way of encapsulating something grander, more otherworldly. Like in Elizabeth Bishop’s poems, that speak of particular experiences, they also oscillate by alluding to the big picture of things.

David has a reductionist thing going on in these paintings. They are cut to the bone. He bottles up an intense experience so it becomes quite cool and removed, a ghost image. Other artists dead and alive, who do this so well would for me include Prunella Clough, Merlin James, Raoul de Keyser and Robert Armstrong.

If you don’t know his painting, and you have the time, please get in touch with David and make a studio visit.
Tom Hammick

David Webb on tomhammick.com