We first came across the work of David Rees on Artfinder and had to interview him. We love his bold colours and textures that create a great emotion in his portraits. Working from and exhibiting in London, David tells us more about his inspirations and love of paint…
Tell us about yourself, how did you start painting?
Art was always my hobby growing up, as a child I spent a lot of time drawing but always shied away from painting. It wasn’t until the end of my time at school that I started experimenting with oil paint and really enjoyed it as a medium for pushing my work further. My A-level pieces started attracting the attention of school parents wanting to buy them. Through university, despite studying History of Art, I stopped producing anything myself. I realised when I came to London that I had lost something that was hugely important to me, I started painting again and saw it had the potential to be more than a hobby. After a fortuitous visit to a gallery and meeting a current up and coming artist I made the decision to quit my job and concentrate on making my first real body of work.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration is hard to pin point, over time you become the collective of all your experiences and it is impossible to discount anything from influencing your work. I’m a huge fan of the technique of painting, it fascinates me to try and see how a work is constructed by individual brush strokes and so I always try and see artists who are painting and to study there work. Currently there feels to be a real resurgence for oil painting, a lot of it being figurative, which as someone who loves the the Italian renaissance is great to see. I appreciate many different types of art but really it is painting where my heart lies. There is something very freeing to be able to enjoy a painting just for the technique that has gone into it, I feel it gives the view a real ownership of the work which for me is important.
Ultimately inspiration for me comes from getting out and seeing what artists are producing. Social media is a fantastic way of being able to browse through works and find artists that inspire you. Platforms like Pinterest and Artfinder allow you to piggy back other peoples boards and allow you to develop your own taste, it can be like falling down the rabbit hole as you each artist leads you to another. After that it’s just a case of keeping an eye out for where you can go and see their works ‘in the flesh’.
Do you have a favourite painting of yours?
No, I have a sort of love/hate relationship with all my paintings! I do have a favorite painting though, “The Bewildered Pursuit” by Andrew Salgado. I think there are a few variations of it but fortunately for me there is one hanging right here in London all year round and it’s free to see. It’s in the Business Design Centre where they host the London Art Fair, apparently whoever owns the building saw it at the fair and liked it so much he bought it himself. I’m not sure if that is 100% true but I’m happy to believe it. I make sure I drop in and see it whenever I’m in the area. I’ve never seen a painting before that I have been able to read so much from without knowing anything about it. Deft brush strokes and smears of oil paint straight from the pallet knife destroy the portrait but a refined balance of colour pulls it back together. As a viewer you are pushed around the canvas, drawn in to see the detail and the forced back to consider the whole. It expertly captures a qualities I pursue in my own work and is always an inspiration to go and stare at.
Tell us a little about your process, how do you go about creating your artworks?
I try to be fairly organic with my painting, I don’t set out with a clear structure of what I want to achieve. There are plenty of concepts I want my pieces to contemplate but I don’t set out to singularly represent any of these. With that it gives me free reign to be brave with how I paint, the more conservative I am the worse the final product is. Pushing what I am prepared to do has so far only progressed my work, it is a terrifying thing to look at a canvas and know something is missing and then taking the steps which could complete a work or ruin it.
Having brakes from painting often allows me to see what I appreciate about it and what frustrates me. Often when looking at other artists are doing I realise that the bits I love the most are tiny details of paint of contrasting colour that hold the piece together. It is so important when painting to not be afraid to make mistakes. I tend to paint sporadically, have periods of great progress before needing to take hours to look at it and understand what I need to do next, where the painting needs to go.
What plans do you have for the future?
Regrettably I’m not able to paint full time in London as I don’t have the space but this summer I have a few weeks put aside to produce some new pieces. I have one commissioned work to do which is exciting as it is not something I have done before, I’m looking forward to being a collaborator to someone else’s vision, I think it could lead to something very different.
I want to try and push my pieces to be looser, less representative and more expressive. There is going to be more paint, bolder stokes and probably a great deal of mess. I’ve been to a number of galleries this last year who I really want to work with, in particular The Unit London really excites me, it is run by a couple of young guys who have done a tremendous job. They have a fantastic exhibition on that really celebrates talent over reputation, the works are all raw and powerful, it’s the sort of gallery that anyone can go and see and enjoy. So my summer will probably be spent annoying them until they show my work.
Long term the plan is to be reaching enough of an audience so that I can paint full time. It not all going to happen at once but you have to be patient at times, something I’ve not always understood. All you can do is keep at it, keep pushing your work and keep on smiling.
Where can we find you online?
Im all over the place!
Also on Instagram and Pinterest