David Downes is one of today’s most powerful artists
Downes doesn’t restrict nor restrain the genre of sea or landscape painting to a backdrop, merely unfolding over the background, far far away into the distance of his image.
His airborne perspective lies across the entire surface of his picture plane, challenging venerable time-honoured painterly tradition. Underpinned by art history, mythology, spirituality and civilization, his unique signature style is so emotionally charged, it’s even more fantastic and phantastic than was. A visionary outsider, his no-nonsense punchy panoramas offer more than traditional picturesque scenic geography; they are Hitchcockian.
Even familiar with Downes’ art, what I’ve seen of his new ‘20-21 portfolio has taken me completely by surprise.
His ever-unique treatment of topography transforms land and sea into an all-immersive, more mystical relationship, wider to the divine human condition of life. That looking at his work leaves me feeling empowered spiritually. It’s cathartic, almost like being baptised, I imagine.
Feeling haunted, distant, distanced, and isolated this past COVID-19 year as we have, Downes’ artwork brings back optimism for life: that there is peace, calm, joy. Totally absorbed by his art I feel I’ve a spring in my step, again. Like I want to write poetry. Like meditating. Oh to run free in the colour field of his painting. His artistic voice sings my song, today it’s ‘What a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong. What’s yours?
Capturing the Coronavirus here and now, Downes’ composition takes me sky-high giddy. Spying how muscular fractal-like clouds strike, dart, zip and stomp with manly authority, atop acreages of curved lithe more womanly shapes that’s vegetation, twisting, rolling and turning over promises to grow our tomorrow(s).
More than arty symbolism, the figure drawn in shadow, stepping forward, making sure the way ahead is safe, stands as an indicator of faith, that everything is going to be alright. Looking down and looking out [for the little man] gives me hope.
His art is my safe comfortable go-to place from where to contemplate today’s world. To explore and survey the challenging impact it has on each and every one of us.
Being in his pictorial environment raises my spirits as high as his vision. From (t)his vantage point, Downes gives me wings to soar, reminding me of skies I’ve seen. And the ghostly trails of recent flypasts by the Royal Air Force and the British Army for Captain Sir Tom Moore’s 100th birthday celebration, and Covid heroes.
His hurly-burly explosion of impasto paint gives his colours such an incredibly rich glow which, together with his animated brushwork, crafts raw aesthetic physical energy, keeping the child in me and my care mentally, emotionally and spiritually buoyant. Art is medicine too, don’t you know?
Estelle Lovatt FRSA