Profile

Exploring the ground between the representational and the abstract, David Brett’s vibrant works aim to capture a transformational moment of light, colour and shape. His rich, expressive paintings use fictional landscapes that borrow from different locations as a vehicle to evoke emotion and mood rather than to represent a specific place. While the English landscape is at the heart of his work, he is inspired by the light and colours of the Mediterranean and often uses these elements to reinterpret a scene in a way that makes it at once both familiar and mysterious.


David’s influences range from Wolf Kahn’s abstract expressionism to David Hockney’s vivid and stylised vision of landscape, as well as several contemporary Mallorcan artists. He is a great admirer of the structural qualities in Cezanne’s work and the vibrant hues of Van Gogh’s, while the expressionist and fauvist movements have also been a big influence which can be detected throughout his oeuvre.


His own approach is to build up layers of sometimes clashing colours, using a variety of brush and palette knife strokes. He paints in acrylics because they offer him the punchy, bright colours that he loves to work with, are fast and immediate which suits his style of working, and can be mixed with mediums that give plenty of scope for palette knife strokes. Part of his process is to overlay different, sometimes clashing, colours to achieve a dynamic effect, and acrylics are perfectly suited to this. He also sketches in oil pastels particularly when travelling in the Mediterranean, as these allow him to replicate the rich colours of the landscape.


David takes photographs for reference, recording elements of the landscape. His imagination may be fired by visiting a particular place, but rather than seeking to represent it, he aims to simplify, distill and remove unnecessary detail in an effort to capture its essence of the place. Even then, the image will be mediated through memories of other places. A frequent motif in his work is the tree, partly because of its sculptural qualities, but also its universal recognition as a symbol of life across many cultures


Born in Hull and brought up in Reading, Berkshire, David now regards himself as a Londoner, having lived in the capital for the last 20 years. He works as both a journalist for the London Evening Standard and as an artist. He describes himself as a cautious personality which is helpful in my life as a journalist, but says that painting gives him licence to be free and more expressive, allowing him to “live without constraint.”. Although his training is in art and he has painted all his life, it is only in the last few years that he has chosen to pursue it professionally. Since then, he has sold paintings to clients across the UK and internationally, has featured in over 20 solo and joint exhibitions, and his work has been shown in the Daily Telegraph and GQ magazine.


“I use landscape as a vehicle to evoke emotional response, and take a semi-abstract approach in which I seek to build a rhythm of colour across the canvas. I am not particularly interested in the image being of a specific place because I think the viewer’s response then becomes about whether they have actually visited that location. I think there is something fundamental to us all in the subject of landscape, an understanding of our physical surroundings, be it countryside or a city. I hope to create images on to which people can project their own experiences and therefore derive a very personal response.”


“I love bold, vibrant colours, and am particularly attracted to the type of light conditions that produce or enrich these in our physical surroundings. My work is about capturing those momentary transformations in light that have a dramatic effect on our emotions. I find low sunlight, either at the beginning or end of the day, is always the most striking for my purposes.”


“I think my paintings are sum totals of all the places I’ve been in my life. I lived In Australia for a short time as a child and feel my experience of this landscape and its strangeness to me at that time often comes through in my work. I also try to transmit all elements of the experience of a place, not just the visual interpretation but the sounds, the temperature, maybe even a taste or smell.”