Past exhibition

Ian Davenport

11 June–12 July 2014

This summer Waddington Custot Galleries present Ian Davenport: Colourfall. Featuring recent paintings as well as examples from the last 25 years, this exhibition is timed to coincide with the publication of a major monograph on the artist’s work by Thames & Hudson.


With influences ranging from European and American abstraction and the music of John Cage to his own urban environment, Davenport's manipulation of paint has earned widespread acclaim since his graduation in 1988. From his early investigations into chance and painting surfaces, to the complex rhythms of his vertically lined colour pieces, Davenport's unconventional methods are unified by intuitive understanding and mastery of the medium. 


Ian Davenport studied Fine Art at London's Goldsmiths College of Art. In the summer of 1988, Davenport was one of sixteen artists to exhibit in the famed group show Freeze. This seminal exhibition curated by Damien Hirst introduced the art world to a new generation of artists, a group that would soon become known as the YBAs (Young British Artists). This early exposure led to his inclusion in the 1990 British Art Show and his first solo show at Waddington Galleries. 


Just one year later he became the youngest Turner Prize nominee. Davenport has since won international recognition with over forty solo shows across Europe and the USA. His major commissions include Poured Lines: Southwark Street (2006) in London, which is one of the largest permanent public artworks in the UK. 


The earliest work included in this exhibition is the monumental painting Satin Black on White from the Bottom to the Top (1989). The work was created with a nail attached to the end of a long stick, a technique which is both a practical way to trail the paint across the canvas and a deliberate subversion of accepted artistic practice. The title is a witty reference to artistic success. 


Davenport's richly coloured later work demonstrates a keen receptivity to urban detail. Poured Painting: Magenta, Orange, Magenta (1999), for example, resembles vast architectural arch shapes. Formed by pouring pools of paint into enormous drips and using high-gloss paints, the paintings have a smooth reflective surface that contrasts with Davenport's distinctive handmade approach. In Untitled Circle Painting: Blue, Black, Blue (2005), the artist developed a technique of flipping a work to create repeated round forms and in this series he delicately balances both artistic and engineering ingenuity. 


The exhibition will showcase the vertically striped works that are often seen as his signature pieces. 
These paintings use palettes derived from urban surroundings or popular sources such as The Simpsons cartoons. More recently Davenport has taken inspiration from the colour compositions of historical works, most notably in Colorfall: Ambassador (2013) which is a radical interpretation of the colours in Holbein's The Ambassadors. From the discovery of his medium in the late 1980s to his most recent explorations with paint, COLOURFALL promises an exciting insight into the highly confident and beautifully crafted oeuvre of one of Britain's leading contemporary artists. 
The monograph is the most comprehensive publication devoted to Ian Davenport's career to date, with more than 200 colour images, texts by Martin Filler, the artist in conversation with Michael Bracewell and an introduction by Damien Hirst. Publication date is 9th June 2014. 
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Installation views

Installation view 11



Ian Davenport

Colourfall 11 June - 12 July 2014 Waddington Custot