Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1979 has exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ukraine and Russia. The output has been predominantly painting, etching, photography and intermittently, integrating small sculptures within installations.
The themes are mostly autobiographical, fusing fiction, observation, myth; inspired by people, nature, travel, the genius loci of familiar haunts and locations , politics, film and literature. Always striving to explore stories through sequence, draughtsmanship and colour. A penchant for the ludicrous is often found lingering somewhere in the background, or indeed the foreground.
A very recent body of work [some 100 gouache drawings to date on paper] entitled Now And When was described as:
David Rees Davies’ recent suite of drawings introduce us to a graphic world of poetic relationships, ambiguous narratives and dark humour. As with so much of DRD’s work, it is a challenge to disentangle the relationships between motive and motif. Any reading of his work requires an interrogation, not only of its subject but also of its method, between what is depicted and how it is depicted. Central to his unique vision is his use of juxtaposition and visual metaphor to create unsettling scenarios in which narratives are simultaneously implied and concealed.
DRD employs scale and viewpoint to powerful effect, constantly presenting the viewer with perceptual step-changes – of being close-to or at great distance – in this sense his images have a filmic quality, shifting from micro to macro, often implying scenes from a story of epic proportions. These drawings may be small, yet their subjects are given a monumentality that belies the scale of their production.
Underpinning all this is his delight in drawing. His skills as a draughtsman are evident in his understanding of the formal qualities of mark and gesture which, in turn, allows his vocabulary to shift expressively from elegantly light and calligraphic to dense and sculptural. Even when his work hovers on the edges of complete abstraction, there is always the sense that something is lurking within the image waiting to be recognized. In this way, he creates imagery that has an immediate impact on our senses, teases us with allusions and subverts and confounds our attempts at rational interpretation.
Stories that build you up while removing the floorboards, confuse you while reassuring you with a charming smile. [I’m told Donald Trump’s ridiculous coiffed hairstyle was one inspirational starting point for many of Now And When’s tachiste compositions].
TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
‘NB’, back page, September 7th, 2012 by C.M:
Thanks to the recently completed footpath, Coastal Wales was this year named by Lonely Planet as ‘the best region on Earth’.(La Ruta Maya, Central America, came second and Northern Kenya, third.) Planet: The Welsh Internationalist has responded by introducing a new regular feature, :Retracing Wales’, in which the writer – there will be a new one each issue – takes aparticular stretch of coastline and extrapolates from it “to examine the significance of the coast path as a whole: from narratives of ‘nation building’, the power of the heritage industry and the ‘branding’ of locality.., to the politics of public access to the countryside”.
The artist David Rees Davies, the first to accept the commission, will be a difficult act to follow, having reproduced a section of his painting “Dangerous Cliffs (On A Clear Day You Can See Ilfracombe)”. This detail draws on his childhood and features not only “a pompous, beer-gutted ex-sportsmaster’ who drunkenly enters into a ludicrous argument over the Viking vs Mabinogi etymological origin of Witches Point” and the “disquieting presence of of the Mari Lwyd, who I knew to secretly living nearby, but was out for some mischief in a party dress”, but also “Nazi POW escapees from the Island Camp [and the Mari Lwyd) waiting patiently at Tusker Rock for a German submarine that never materialises” along with “memories of my uncle Danny, who as a boy in the 1930s feared he had become prematurely bald as a result of my father singlehandedly pulling him up by his hair – he’d broken one of his arms whilst stealing gulls’ eggs and was dangling, stiff with fear”. And we are not to imagine that it stops there: the painting is a painting in progress and, as the artist points out, “paintings can make their own mind up”.
Exhibitions include Welsh National Eisteddfods in Llanelli, Llandow, Wrexham, Bala and Cardiff; East Sussex Open 2014, 2015, Towner Galley, Eastbourne, Jerwood Drawing Prize, London [September 2014 and 2007, 2009], Welsh Artist of the Year 2012; ‘Rhondda Grey?’ at the Rhondda Heritage Centre, South Wales; “The Swear Box, The Falling Pilot & The Avenging Hare” in London 2011; ‘Nature Morte’ at the Kharkov City Gallery, Ukraine 2009 and “Handshakes & Earthquakes” at the Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston University, London, Dinefwr Literary Festival, Carmarthen, West Wales; BEEP: Wales International Painting Prize 2015, Elysium gallery, Swansea.
An essay name-checking people such as Edward Lear, Polish film director Zbigniew Rybczynski, Cliff Thorburn, JPR Williams, Raymond Queneau etc. with accompanying site-specific photographs celebrating a much loved stretch of Glamorganshire coastline were published in August by Planet, The Welsh Internationalist Magazine. [see News for TLS review]. Currently,images can be viewed with short accompanying essay Human/Nature on Junction Box, The Glasfryn Project website: glasfrynproject.org.uk/w/category/junction-box/
Works are in the collections of the Scottish Arts Council, Kharkov City Art Gallery, Norwich City Museum, University of East Anglia, Norwich, Kings College, Cambridge.
- Commissions include Private Eye Magazine, Penguin, Picador, Methuen, Sunday Times, New York Times and Boston Globe.
- Publisher of limited edition publications: Tasmania Freehand Press, since 1998.
- Recent articles include Welsh magazine Taliesin with accompanying poem by Eisteddfod poet-in-residence.
- Awarded British Council Bursaries in 1990 to travel and study as artist in residence at the Soviet Union of Artists’ Studios in Moscow, Leningrad, Uzbekistan and in 1998 for a one-man show in Kharkov, Ukraine.
- Artist in Residence at the University of NSW, Sydney, Australia, 1998.
- Awarded first prize, Fine Art International Open Print Biennale -‘4th Block Chernobyl Memorial’.
Many of the works exhibited on this website are available for sale. Contact for details and other images not yet visible.