David Armitage - Totem, 28 x 23cm, Oil on canvas - £450
This monumental new series of works by one of the UK's leading colour abstractionists marks a period of maturity for the artist and represents a new level of achievement. The success of this exhibition lies in the cohesion achieved despite the artist's huge range of interests and preoccupations. Subjects range from still lifes and interiors to shrines, plant life and music. The result is a display of variety, spontaneity and shifting light and yet it is overwhelmingly about one thing - colour. The artist affirms this with the statement 'The primacy of colour is everything to me in painting, and that is what I respond to in recent art history - Van Gogh, Gauguin, Bonnard, Matisse - I remember looking at Rothko as a student, I'd never seen anything so wonderful - someone said they appear to be lit from within'.
Tod und Verklarung is the most monumental of these canvases and also the most expressive. It is inspired by music and alludes to a previous series of his large paintings exhibited at Guildford Cathedral and displaying his response to listening to music in a cathedral setting. This experience has culminated in the epic Tod und Verklarung: Death and Transfiguration - a reference to Strauss. The colours explode off the canvas in a myriad of oranges, purples and yellows. In the smaller scale works Armitage has returned to a much earlier love of interiors, still-lifes and works with a sense of place. The exhibition continues with a series of works entitled 'Shrine' inspired by a recent trip to India which echo the markings of tribal art and Hindi devotion. The result is a breath-taking display of colour fusion and shimmering light organised through a series of marks and a consistent method which runs throughout the exhibition from the small studies to the monumental canvases.
Born in Tasmania in 1943 David Armitage has lived in the UK since 1973. He is married to Ronda Armitage writer & creator of the renown modern classics series The Lighthouse Keeper's books for children.
In 2009 David Armitage was invited to participate in the Oxford Union Debate, supporting the motion that 'conceptual art is not art'.
Alan Woods - writer and critic
David's ambition is to create paintings that are loved and lived with, that contribute to daily life. There is a darkness to them, often, an emotional complexity - but he always speaks of pleasure of colours, of brushmarks, of a wordless engagement with the richness of paintings and objects....or, as somebody once said ( or something rather like it) 'painting is about painting, everything else is about everything else.'