DAVID WHITTAKER 'NATURE OF THE LIFE PAVILIONS' - 4/7 TO 11/8/14


‘One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star’

Friedrich Nietzsche
‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None’


Moments of darkness and joy, from the cradle to the grave. The weeping, the brave face. The unpredictable nature of being. The complexities of gender. Thought and emotions, personal and universal – this is what David Whittaker describes as ‘the rapture of life’.

An ever-increasing level of intricacy is a particular feature of this exhibition, with drawing underpinning the work. ‘The Gender Complexities’ are a series of painstakingly intricate drawings created through repetitive ‘prayer like’ scrawling and stenciling of found objects: lost keys, dropped coins, trinkets. Lives traced through discarded ephemera. A watermark is created that spirals outwards - fluid patterns flow across the board. Cellular, bodily and cosmic. Molecular. Chaotic and intricate. These are deeply personal markings. A more primal and expressive approach features on oval templates, which overset and contrast the work underneath. These ‘cameos’ illustrate the personal story, the isolation within the wider chaos of existence.

From the smallest vulnerable head studies, to the larger more imposing yet equally intimate painted heads - oppositions continue to weave – the familiar and the oblique in convolution and clarity. Macro / Micro. Dark / Light. Male / Female, Fleeting / Permanent.

A series of works, taken from a book of drawings titled ‘Studies from The Mirror of a Nightclub Toilet’ share, with often heartbreaking openness, personal and imagined narratives. Individual stories about the mundane and the weighty, triviality and daydream collide with loss and suffering. Fragility and thoughts of escape. They are heavy, romantic, tragic, whilst remaining prosaic. Through this sharing you are propositioned to contemplate that you may be isolated but you’re not alone.

The exhibition culminates with the four large paintings from a series called ‘From the Modern Pavilions’. In these paintings Whittaker explores and experiments with additional creative methods, including this delicate watermark drawing, alongside meticulous paintings of collaged elements and more abstracted oil and acrylic work. They are the first of a series of specific portraits where Whittaker is reverential of the subject. Sitting at a table, served tea with the fragmented sitter in imagined conversation, surrounded under the pavilion of life by a complex tapestry of existence. Without cliché, affection or irony Whittaker describes each panel as ‘‘a sort of womb of the world’’.

These are works for people to engage with on a personal level – the readings are varied and multifaceted. They are Whittaker’s ongoing pursuit to find understanding. The boundless beauty and chaos of life.


Co-written by Olivia Gray and Joseph Clarke, 2014




She Dreams the Night Before Surgery
oil, acrylic, collage, china marker & pencil on primed panel
80 x 80 cm





Transexual Locomotives of the Ape Cloth (Isambard Kingdom Brunel)
oil, acrylic, collage, china marker & pencil on primed panel
80 x 80 cm





Calling Towards the Mandrills
oil, acrylic, collage, china marker & pencil on primed panel
80 x 80 cm





I Saw Scott Walker in an Old Painting at Speed Through a Window of a Train
oil, acrylic, collage, china marker & pencil on primed panel
80 x 80 cm





Rage Again my Love
oil, acrylic, collage, china marker & pencil on primed panel
80 x 80 cm





Fluffer of Angel
oil, acrylic, collage, china marker & pencil on primed panel
80 x 80 cm





Boy Ascends
oil, acrylic, collage, china marker & pencil on primed panel
80 x 80 cm





Beauties Form the Beast Towards English Lanes and Fairground Rides in the Rain
oil, acrylic, collage, china marker & pencil on primed panel
80 x 80 cm





From the Grey Room
oil, acrylic, collage, china marker & pencil on primed panel
80 x 80 cm





The Heavy Nights Give Way to the Distant Calls of the Zoological Gardens of Mornings Bright as I Gaze at you Through the Railings
oil, acrylic, collage, china marker & pencil on primed panel
80 x 80 cm





Saddest Intro
oil, acrylic, collage, china marker & pencil on primed panel
80 x 80 cm





The Gender Complexities, Plate 1
drawing, collage, china marker and make up on primed panel
80 x 80 cm





The Gender Complexities, Plate 2
drawing, collage, china marker and make up on primed panel
80 x 80 cm





The Gender Complexities, Plate 3
drawing, collage, china marker and make up on primed panel
80 x 80 cm





Dressed
oil, acrylic, collage & pencil on primed panel
40 x 40 cm





Prayers
oil, acrylic, collage & pencil on primed panel
40 x 40 cm





Settings
oil, acrylic, collage & pencil on primed panel
40 x 40 cm





Veil
oil, acrylic, collage & pencil on primed panel
40 x 40 cm





Pharaohs
oil, acrylic, collage & pencil on primed panel
40 x 40 cm





Certitude
oil, acrylic, collage & pencil on primed panel
40 x 40 cm





Studies from the Mirror of a Night Club Toilet, 1
pencil, china marker, collage & make up on paper
42 x 30 cm





Studies from the Mirror of a Night Club Toilet, 2
pencil, china marker, collage & make up on paper
42 x 30 cm





Studies from the Mirror of a Night Club Toilet, 3
pencil, china marker, collage & make up on paper
42 x 30 cm





Studies from the Mirror of a Night Club Toilet, 4
pencil, china marker, collage & make up on paper
42 x 30 cm





Studies from the Mirror of a Night Club Toilet, 5
pencil, china marker, collage & make up on paper
42 x 30 cm





Studies from the Mirror of a Night Club Toilet, 6
pencil, china marker, collage & make up on paper
42 x 30 cm





Studies from the Mirror of a Night Club Toilet, 7
pencil, china marker, collage & make up on paper
42 x 30 cm





Studies from the Mirror of a Night Club Toilet, 8
pencil, china marker, collage & make up on paper
42 x 30 cm





Studies from the Mirror of a Night Club Toilet, 9
pencil, china marker, collage & make up on paper
42 x 30 cm





Studies from the Mirror of a Night Club Toilet, 10
pencil, china marker, collage & make up on paper
42 x 30 cm





From the Modern Pavilions 1, Dr Lucy Worsley
oil, acrylic & pencil on canvas
122 x 122 cm





From the Modern Pavilions 2, Alex Crawford, Skies of the Last Chance Souls
oil, acrylic & pencil on canvas
122 x 122 cm





From the Modern Pavilions 3, Mark Lawson
oil, acrylic & pencil on canvas
122 x 122 cm





From the Modern Pavilions 4, Dan Cruickshank
oil, acrylic & pencil on canvas
122 x 122 cm