This summer the Alan Cristea Gallery, London, will unveil a major new body of etchings and monoprints by Ian Davenport (b.1966), YBA and graduate of Goldsmiths College of Art, London. Davenport, who is driven by an enduring fascination with the materiality and process of painting and printmaking, has made a series of monumental triptychs, his largest prints to date, inspired by the colour compositions of historical paintings by Hans Holbein, Gustav Klimt, and Vincent van Gogh. These works will be shown alongside further etchings and a series of splatter screenprints, a departure from Davenport’s signature technique of vertical lines cascading down into rich puddles of colour. At the same time as this exhibition in London, visitors to the 57th Venice Biennale will be greeted by a monumental painted installation covering the façade of The Swatch Pavilion, for whom he has also designed a Swatch Art Special watch.
Melismatic, a musical term which refers to the singing of a single syllable of text whilst moving between several different notes in succession, includes Davenport’s largest and most ambitious editions to date. Four monumental etched triptychs, each an orchestration of 42 different colour combinations, are rendered in fluid lines of colour which pool to form puddles at the bottom of the compositions and each measure 177 x 255 cm. The Ambassadors (After Holbein), 2017, and Primavesi (After Klimt), 2017, are abstract interpretations of the colours used in Holbein’s famous painting, The Ambassador, 1533, and Gustav Klimt’s 1912 painting, Portrait of Mada Primavesi. These works are accompanied by two unique monoprint etchings, entitled The Marriage (After Perugino), 2017 and Elise (After Van Gogh), 2017, each one a more daring exploration of colour and line. These prints will be complemented by a recent series of etchings, under the group title Colourcade Buzz, made using chine collé.
Experimentation, improvisation, and exploring the accidental are a vital part of the creative process for Davenport. The second part of the exhibition Davenport switches to a totally new format in which the printed colours are splattered rather than poured. This completely new departure in his work will appear in the form of six screenprints under the group title Colour Splat.
Davenport, who remains one of the youngest ever, nominees for the Turner Prize, has had over forty solo shows across Europe and the USA, and major commissions around the world including Poured Lines: Southwark Street, 2006, in London, a 48 metre wide painting on a bridge which is one of the largest permanent public artworks in the UK. Melismatic is Davenport’s fourth solo exhibition at the Alan Cristea Gallery, who are the exclusive worldwide representative for Davenport’s original prints.