Many of the scenes you depict are drawn from your personal experiences and aspects of everyday life. What are some of your personal memories that have made it onto your canvases? In addition, is there a certain place or area you frequent to draw inspiration for your paintings? What qualities do you look for when deciding on a subject for your work?
Great question! I am always on the look out for local inspiration and fortunately, where we live, in South West London never fails to deliver! A few personal memories that have made it on to canvas are Eyes On The Street which depicts a local character who I often encounter in the neighbourhood skipping in the street. He strangely carries an air of dignity and I cast him as a warden of the neighbourhood in this painting.
The Cowboy Of Tulse Hill was based on an incongruous sight of a man dressed in full cowboy attire. He was crossing the road in Tulse Hill (our neighbourhood) with a fellow pedestrian standing next him, who was taken aback by his unique sense of style. It was an image I had to immortalise.
Park Life, which is currently on show at Court Tree Collective, is an every day scene from my local park, which I visit most days either for a run or for a more scenic route to my studio.
And Average Sinners is a portrait of my wife and two friends sitting on the couch looking ridiculous.
In terms of qualities, I am looking for eccentricity and authentic weirdness. I am into local characters, overheard sounds bites, and every day encounters that tap into broader themes relating to social and cultural issues. Often with an underlying sense of humour.
Your artworks also include many pop culture references and icons, social commentary, and are “suffused with a healthy dose of humor.” How do you find this balance between storytelling, style and aesthetics, social opinions, and cultural references in a single work of your art? And what kind of humor are you drawn to?
I find that these elements tie together organically. Often the starting point will be an overheard conversation or sound bite (I am always writing down notes) and then I will build a semi-fictional narrative around it that relates to my own personal experience as well broader themes. I often find the juxtaposition of text or even title with the image can create something that is unexpected and amusing. Then, I will add to it and build a story, sometimes going for cheap hits like putting a bird on it and other universal icons that make things instantly relatable and a bit kitsch. I try to keep things as light and fun as possible as this allows me to be more free and not question too much how I am communicating the broader narrative. This allows me to focus on composition and aesthetics. If another element is required to balance the image then I’ll just put it in!
There’s a lot of energy, vibrancy, and action packed into your artworks. Even in your paintings that aren’t filled with subjects in motion, there is still a sense of animation in it. How do you achieve so much dynamism through a form of art that is technically still?
Thank you! In my work I am always trying to achieve a state where I am not 100% in control of what I am doing and I think it is here where the most exciting and interesting things happen. I like it when paintings are a bit wonky and capture the spirit of their subject. A feeling without being too concerned with technique and accuracy. I find that through this way, I can achieve a sort of flow state which I find enjoyable and gives dynamics with incidental moments that can animate the work in a way that is unplanned and spontaneous.
Although you have worked in a variety of mediums, you have mentioned that acrylic paint is your primary tool. What is it about acrylic paint that makes it your go-to? And what is the appeal in creating mixed-media art pieces?
I love the immediacy of acrylic. I like to work fast in multiple layers and the fluidity of acrylic aligned with its fast drying time allows me to be as loose as possible. I think my work is most successful when it is raw and emotive, and for me acrylic lends itself to spontaneity. Also as a self taught painter, I find it more accessible. This year I am curious to try out oils though!
I love mixing media as you can build different textures and effects on a canvas and treat a painting as more of a drawing… adding and subtracting elements and giving a depth and richness that is harder to achieve with just one medium. It’s also a lot of fun!
Last great media (movie/book/show/music/etc.)?
Movie: All of Us Strangers (directed by Andrew Haigh)
Book: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Music: Viagra Boys
Click Here ︎ to see David’s work.
David’s Instagram: @davidhorganart
Interview by Tiffany Kang.