Opening this autumn, a new exhibition by British painter Ian Davenport (b. 1966, Sidcup, Kent) includes the artist’s largest ever wall to floor installation, alongside new and recent work.
Two immense paintings installed in the heart of the gallery, Lake 1 and Lake 2 feature lines of poured paint that flow down the length of the wall, and into a pool of colour that extends over eight metres across the gallery floor. For the first time, visitors have the opportunity to step directly into the work as they move through the space and become immersed within it.
Developed over several months in Davenport’s studio in Peckham, south east London, these two large scale installations are a natural progression for his work. In recent years Davenport has been working on an ever more ambitious scale: in 2017 he was invited to invited to make a 14-metre long painting for the Giardini at the Venice Biennale; 2022 saw the opening of a site-specific installation on the steps of the Chiostro del Bramante in Rome, as part of an exhibition curated by Danilo Eccher.
Of this new work in London, the artist says:
Working on a large scale, flooding the gallery with colour, brings out certain themes in painting that
interest me. I can allow the paint to behave more like a sculptural entity: it is manipulated by me but also by gravity, and the work has a pronounced relationship to the floor, much like a sculpture.
The use of unconventional methods to apply paint is central to Davenport’s practice: spanning a career of over three decades, his paintings have been created with syringes and watering cans, or with paint poured directly from its tin. In this exhibition, Davenport’s more recent paintings of poured lines reveal a greater sense of symmetry, and a technique whereby the pooled paint is pushed back on itself, creating a new optical effect which evokes a tide of colour. Whilst retaining his original sense of calculated rhythm, the overall effect is now one of mirroring. The colours are selected instinctively, indirectly inspired by sources as diverse as medieval stained glass and Saturday morning cartoons.
The exhibition at Waddington Custot will mark Davenport’s tenth show with the gallery, beginning with a debut in 1990 after his graduation from Goldsmiths as part of the YBA generation. A coinciding exhibition of selected works on paper will be on show at the Burton Art Gallery and Museum in Bideford, Devon.
Ian Davenport: Lake, 6th October – 11 November 2023, Waddington Custot
About the artist
Ian Davenport (b. 1966, Sidcup, Kent) is an abstract painter recognised for his complex colour compositions and whose work is informed by a deep understanding and enjoyment of paint. His various means of execution are driven by a desire to investigate the paradox between control and chance. It has led him to emphasise the action of painting as his subject matter, observing that ‘the how to paint became the what to paint’. He is well-known for using hypodermic syringes to pour liquid acrylic paint onto surfaces. In 2008, Davenport noticed how the paint puddled on the floor and this created a visual contradiction between the controlled, precise lines that then merged to become autonomous and self-determined.
Since graduating from Goldsmiths’ College of Art in 1988, Davenport received early recognition participating in Freeze, a student-curated exhibition at the Surrey Docks in London Docklands in 1988, which exhibited the work of Goldsmiths’ students who would later come to be loosely known as the ‘YBAs’ (Young British Artists). Only two years after graduation, Davenport had his first solo exhibition at Waddington Galleries in 1990, and in the same year, his work was included in The British Art Show, touring to Leeds City Art Gallery and Hayward Gallery, London. He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1991, and in 1999, was awarded the John Moores Painting Prize. Davenport has been the subject of numerous exhibitions worldwide, with solo museum shows at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, Tate Liverpool and