LondonDavid Wightman: Ariel
Grove Square Galleries presents Ariel, a solo exhibition of new works by British contemporary painter David Wightman — the latest artist to join their growing roster. The exhibition comprises a series of paintings, prints, and drawings.
Wightman is renowned for his striking imaginary landscapes, integrating collage, colour, and composition to create worlds which blur the lines between fiction and reality. Inspired by the colour theory of Josef Albers and the sublime landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich, Wightman’s fantasy vistas defy strict categorisation, evoking elements of both the Romantic and the Abstract. His works offer a glimpse into another world — seemingly real yet entirely fictional.
Growing up in the working-class suburbs of Greater Manchester, Wightman took inspiration from his immediate surroundings, transforming the wallpapered walls of his childhood home into the mountains and ravines of his imagined scenes. His work combines formal artistic influences with the fantasy art he saw throughout his youth in the 1980s. Wightman moved to London to study Fine Art at Middlesex University and went on to achieve a Masters in Painting from the prestigious Royal College of Art, London at the age of 23.
Wightman begins each painting with a ‘cartoon’ – the artist’s term for his delicate line-drawing studies – before slowly collaging the canvas surface with hundreds of hand-cut pieces of textured wallpaper to build his landscape. Once a composition is fully collaged, in a meticulous and time-consuming process, Wightman paints its surface, masterfully combining a distinctive colour palette with rich texture to dizzying effect.
Wightman’s unique collaging technique is similar to marquetry, yet his mechanical precision hides the hand-made craft of his work. Clean lines slice across erratic wallpaper textures as the tactile nature of the medium is juxtaposed with the work’s peculiar geometry. The once familiar swirls of living-room wallpaper patterns are re-contextualised as the crevices of mountains; bumpy spirals become ravines and glaciers set against lakes and skies of impossible vibrant colour.
The titles of Wightman’s imagined peaks are inspired by his broad interest in mythology, religion, music, and literature. Each name evokes beauty and power, a landmark in their fictional world, speaking to a sense of both familiarity and fiction – whereby the vistas become partly believable, but also entirely unlocatable.
Untethered from views found in our real world, Wightman’s landscapes present an imaginary space, free from geographical constraints. Placed front and centre, our gaze is drawn in beyond the textured surfaces, deep into and past each layer of the scene that stretches out above and around us. The sublime stillness gives a contemplative quality to the worksand we are faced with the mountain as a powerful equal within a dreamlike realm rich in colour and texture, where abstraction and reality contest and converge.
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)