DAVID WHITTAKER ''BRIEF MOMENT IN THE EXPOSURE' - 8 TO 31/8/09


Who are YOU?” said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, 1865



On the wall of David Whittaker’s small studio is a clipping of a photograph of Alice Liddell age 9. I ask David why the picture sits there modestly enshrined. He explains: ‘There she is at the start of her life, innocent and clearly full of imagination and possibility, alive and looking back at you. But now she’s gone and the rest becomes a history almost lost - like a trail of vapour’.

Its a moving and melancholy notion. Further conversation makes it clear that life and its transience is what David aims to grab hold of and place in a metaphorical jar or rabbit hole, which can always be escaped into. This is clearly a monumental endeavour. I cannot stress enough the magnitude of such an artistic objective, or how impressed I am by Whittaker’s handling of it.

Most of the works are based around the loose form of the human head and its metaphysical core. Ambiguous non-specific portraits, walking a high wire perfectly balanced between states of calm and conflict, confidence and nervousness, hopes and fears, conscious and subconscious, male and female. They are innately, universally human. ‘A Brief Moment in the Exposure’ then becomes the perfect title to this exhibition, speaking of the practical function of a solo exhibition, but more profoundly of our time here and the things that make it what it is and indeed who we are.

The story of young Alice and her journey through Wonderland, also hints at Whittaker’s suggestion that we are what we dream we will become when in a state of openness or susceptibility. Whittaker is generally reluctant to make statements about the work, but hinted at his personal story in a short poetic verse which preceded the creation of the ‘This Lasts Longer Than Love’ series of works in this catalogue: ‘The undeniable tension...a conflict of two genders in one unit...as a tank it moves forward, challenging the histories of the head as it is... this is the truth... For we are the evolution of dreams’. There is a suggestion of the powerful and inescapable link between Whittaker and his art: that both live through each other and that the paintings unmask and reveal a true identity. This identity is ambiguous, internal and ephemeral, our own warren to explore, but where some of the tunnels remain blocked consciously or unconsciously. Through art these tunnels can be accessed.

Philosophically it is an interesting concept that everything that we witness, think, dream, and have said to us can inform and indeed change the person we are, and result in an ever-expanding maze of the self. Like Lorenz’s ‘Butterfly Effect’ which suggested that one flap of a butterfly’s wings can change the weather forever – any matter of stimulus can alter and inform what we are to become. We are all in a constant state of flux or metamorphosis.

The last two years have been important in Whittaker’s personal and artistic evolution. It is my second experience of working with him, and in that time I have seen considerable development. A process of transformation has taken place. The works have become much more personal and open, as Whittaker has gained in confidence. The voice of quiet man is becoming much more definite and the power of his images much more profound.

So here we have a collection of paintings, which make the prodigious journey from the womb to the tomb. What objective could be more monumental than that?


Joseph Clarke


Mothers Of The Hip
acrylic, collage and china marker on board
28 x 28 cm each panel (triptych)




Edit The Blood
acrylic, collage and china marker on board
28 x 28 cm each panel (triptych)




This Mirror
acrylic, collage and china marker on board
28 x 28 cm each panel (triptych)




Hedgerow Of Comic Book Eyes
oil, acrylic, china marker and collage on panel
30 x 30 cm




Run Free Plains
oil, acrylic, china marker and collage on panel
30 x 30 cm




Another Day Passes Into History
oil, acrylic, china marker and collage on panel
30 x 30 cm




Born In Mothers Wine
oil, acrylic, china marker and collage on panel
30 x 30 cm




Rimmel In Sunset
oil, acrylic, china marker and collage on panel
30 x 30 cm




In Empathy
oil, acrylic, china marker and collage on panel
30 x 30 cm




Ophélie Renouard
oil, acrylic, china marker and collage on panel
30 x 30 cm




Fell
oil, acrylic, china marker and collage on panel
30 x 30 cm




I Sleep With My Truth
oil, acrylic, china marker and collage on panel
30 x 30 cm




Caterpillars Of The Heart
oil, acrylic, china marker and collage on panel
30 x 30 cm




Streets Of Crosses Driven By A Divine Scent Our Mines Like Razorblades In Our Modern Heir
oil, acrylic, china marker and varnish on panel
61 x 61 cm




There’s No Easy Way Out Of This Baby
oil, acrylic, china marker and varnish on panel
61 x 61 cm




For Here The Eternal Rabbit Hole Lingers
oil, acrylic, china marker and varnish on panel
61 x 61 cm




And
oil, acrylic, china marker and varnish on panel
61 x 61 cm




For Mahler
oil, acrylic, china marker and varnish on panel
61 x 61 cm




Fools In The Daylight
oil, acrylic, china marker and varnish on panel
61 x 61 cm




Through A Shimmering Stream Your Glistening Mouth Like A Monet
oil, acrylic, china marker and varnish on panel
61 x 61 cm




Heartbreak Of The Vuillard
oil, acrylic, china marker and varnish on panel
61 x 61 cm




On The Edge Of An Abyss Of Vanity
oil, acrylic, china marker and varnish on panel
61 x 61 cm




Western Boys
oil and acrylic on canvas
122 x 122 cm




Western Boys 2
oil and acrylic on canvas
122 x 122 cm