David Rees

I had a love for art from an early age; my weekends would be spent drawing the heroes and monsters from cartoons and video games. At school this was nurtured, I learnt different styles and was introduced to life drawing. I gained an art scholarship to my senior school and in sixth form finally started experimenting with oil paints, which is probably one of the safer things to experiment with in sixth form. Alongside painting and selling my work to teachers at the school, I studied Art History at A level. This was mainly for the school trips to Madrid and Paris, but unknowingly, it built the foundation of an understanding and appreciation of art that I had previously lacked. Eventually I studied History of Art at Nottingham University.

 

I'd never planned to become a painter; it hadn't even occurred to me that it was a real job. The art world seemed to be about conceptual art that felt uninviting and certainly not the type of thing I was interested in making. I kept drawing as a hobby, and instead worked in International Development for charities in Africa working with street involved children. Then one day I went to an Andrew Salgado exhibition; I was blown away by what I saw. His large portrait paintings were unlike anything I had ever seen. They made sense to me and I was captivated by them. I decided that day to quit my job and try and become an artist.

I was quickly signed by the publisher Washington Green and left London to live with my parents in France and start painting. I had only produced half a dozen paintings at this point, so I was still learn-ing how to paint and how the art world worked. My technique changed as I experimented, and I came across more artists to inspire me. Computer printed works of Marco Grassi, Harding Mayer and Jimmy Law quickly adorned my studio walls alongside that of Salgado, as reminders of what I was trying to achieve.

 

I left Washington Green in 2018 to work with more independent galleries and currently my studio is in Camden in London. I've become increasingly interested in the Japanese aesthetic philosophy known as "Wabi Sabi", it focuses on the relationship between imperfection and beauty. This describes both what I strive to achieve visually as well as deeper themes within my work; concepts of melancholy, regret, memory and mental health are increasingly becoming my focus. But these are just my thoughts, once the painting leaves my studio it becomes up to the viewer to decide what they see…