Ian Davenport (b. 1966, Sidcup, Kent) is an abstract painter recognised for his complex colour compositions, his work informed by a deep understanding and enjoyment of paint. Since graduating from Goldsmiths’ College of Art in 1988, Davenport has experimented with using everyday tools, such as watering cans, electric fans and nails, to exercise and limit his manipulation of paint. These various tools and 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’. Davenport is well-known for using hypodermic syringes to pour liquid household paint onto surfaces, and in 2008 he noticed how these puddled paint onto the floor, creating a visual contradiction between the controlled, precise lines of his paintings and their merged self-determination.
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 ‘YBA’s’ (Young British Artists). Two years after graduation, in 1990, Davenport had his first solo exhibition at Waddington Galleries. 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 since been the subject of numerous exhibitions worldwide, with solo museum shows at Tate, Liverpool (2000), Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2004) and in 2018, a retrospective at Dallas Contemporary.
Recent years have seen Davenport extend his painting practice from two to three dimensions with site-specific installations. In 2006, Southwark Council commissioned him to produce ‘Poured Lines: Southwark Street’, a 48-metre-long painting that formed part of the regeneration of Bankside. Through his commissions, Davenport explores different mediums. He created a hand-painted series of porcelain plates in collaboration with Meissen for the South London Gallery in 2016 and, in the same year, designed a special edition bag for Christian Dior. In 2019 Dior went on to commission a large-scale installation, Davenport’s ‘Cascade’, for their flagship store in Toronto. For the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017, Davenport was invited by the Swatch pavilion to create the ‘Giardini Colourfall’ installation and to design the limited edition watch ‘Wide Acres of Time’. In 2022, Davenport installed a poured staircase at the Chiostro Del Bramante in Rome for the institution’s Crazy exhibition, and the following year, in 2023, his poured staircase ‘Tide’ was unveiled at the Greenwich Peninsula in London.
Davenport’s work is held in important museum collections throughout the world, including Berardo Collection Museum, Lisbon; Birmingham City Art Gallery; Borusan Art Gallery, Istanbul; British Museum, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Dallas Museum of Art, Texas; Jerwood Space, London; MOMA, New York; Museum of Modern Art, La Spezia, Italy; Museum Voorlinden, Netherlands; National Museum Wales, Cardiff; Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery; Southampton City Art Gallery; Tate, London; Von der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal, Germany and Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.
A comprehensive monograph of Davenport’s work was published in 2014 by Thames & Hudson. The publication includes an interview by Michael Bracewell and newly commissioned texts by Martin Filler and Damien Hirst.Read more
Ian Davenport work auctioned for Covid Crisis
Exhibitions and Art Fairs
The works in this group presentation demonstrate the translation of drawing into the three-dimensional; towering monumental installations protrude from the walls, and curl up from floors, while the negative space of the picture plane is variously architecturally structured, or revealed through light and shade.
The exhibition includes works by Peter Blake, Enrico Castellani, Michael Craig-Martin, Ian Davenport, Jean Dubuffet, Barry Flanagan, Peter Halley, Hans Hartung, Frank Stella and Bernar Venet among others.
One of Bernar Venet’s iconic Indeterminate Line sculptures, created in rolled steel, shows the French artist’s approach to conceptualising and configuring space.
Mgarap Bangke, a 2004 wall-based sculpture by Frank Stella, similarly towers in a tangle of industrial materials, which the artist has coerced into curving organic forms. Moulded sections of dark carbon fibre are supported by circular loops of unpainted stainless-steel tubing and geometric rails.
A new painting by Ian Davenport, titled Yellow and Purple (Double), is also displayed, portraying the artist's use of colour as a tool to delineate space through controlled movements of vibrant paint.
NEW WORK: Ian Davenport
Frieze New York
This diverse presentation of artworks spans several decades, with pieces connecting through a multitude of points.
Art Basel Hong Kong
Our presentation includes works by Chu Teh-Chun, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Peter Blake, Ian Davenport, Jean Dubuffet, Barry Flanagan, Hans Hartung, Pierre Soulages and Fabienne Verdier.