YBA and former Turner Prize nominee Ian Davenport may not be as widely known as Damien Hirst, but once seen, his bright, kaleidoscopic works, which often measure more than a metre in each direction, are not easily forgotten. From Thursday September 20 to Thursday November 8, an exhibition at Waddington Custot in London will present fresh paintings and works on paper that take his work in a new direction.
In 1988, the year that he graduated from Goldsmiths, Davenport participated in the exhibition Freeze, alongside YBAs Mat Collishaw, Fiona Rae and organiser Damien Hirst. “When I was at college I became interested in the crossover between painting and sculpture,” he says. This crossover is best demonstrated in Davenport’s huge Puddle Paintings, made by carefully pouring paint down a vertical surface to form lines of colour that collect in a puddle on the floor below. The acrylics don’t bleed into each other, however, each holding their form to create bold stripes that are built up line by line.
Davenport’s Puddle Paintings are well represented in the forthcoming Colourscapes exhibition. One of the largest, Olympia (£144,000), measures 290cm x 200cm – though a 14m example was shown at last year’s Venice Biennale. “A lot of background colour research goes into each one, whether this is taken from another painting like a Van Gogh [The Harvest Study (After Van Gogh), £54,000] or a landscape I have seen,” he says. “I make a number of small studies and then deconstruct them, putting together more precise colour sequences.”
The artist has yet to make his final selection of works for the show, but his latest interest has been how to manipulate liquid acrylic and pour a sheet of colours simultaneously in diagonal directions for appropriately named smaller works including Flow, Ripple and Glide. White Cluster and Black Flare, meanwhile, illustrate a new approach. Here, paint is layered in a process of aggressive mark making, each creating a little explosion that drips its way down the canvas. Aesthetically pleasing and entrancing.