David Abse Biography

I have been drawing as long as I can remember. My grandfather was a shop steward for years in the Pilkingtons' glassworks in St Helens, but after he retired he went to art school every day for 30 years. He died over 20 years ago, aged 99, still a communist, determined not to get a telegram from the queen. He was and is my inspiration.

I was born in London in December 1958. I went to school there and lived there for much of my life. After leaving school, I studied Art and design for four years in the UK at the University of Wolverhampton and gained a BA(Hons), and subsequently exhibited throughout the UK and elsewhere in the world. My work has appeared in exhibitions all over the world - in Japan, Poland, France as well as the UK. This included works at the Francis Kyle Gallery in London, work in the Bradford Print Biennale, at the Print Triennial in Kanagawa and elsewhere. Last year a picture of mine featured in the BBC TV show The One Show.

I worked for 30 years in the voluntary sector in the UK, but never stopped painting and drawing. I live now with my family in France, and paint full time.

Artist's Statement

I am inspired by the local environment here: the village is beautiful, the area is dominated by the mountain of Pic Saint Loup, which fascinates me because of its shape, size, the colours it turns in different light, the different dramatic shapes it has from different angles. Pic Saint Loup is geologically fascinating ñ a sharp peak that rises out of the plain of the Hérault . To get reference material and inspiration I drive around and round the mountain in my little MG Midget (often accompanied by my black labrador Buffy) taking photographs and making sketches as preparatory work for my pictures. My paintings come from inside as well as from my environment. I have no fear, I want to put colour on canvas, paper or whatever. There are images I want to make, textures I want to paint. I am playing with my materials - acrylics, spray paint, inks, pastels, anything to make something. Sometimes I start a painting with a complete composition in mind that I sketch out on canvas. Sometimes I start with a blank canvas and some colours, shapes, textures, ideas in my head. Some music in the background energising me. What I end up with is not what I usually start with in mind anyway, which is ok - I know this is going to happen. I just want to make something that works ñ that speaks, that communicates. I’m not always sure what it will communicate, or whether it will communicate what I intend ñ again this isn’t important. A painting can take hours or weeks. I never know when I start when I am going to finish. Sometimes I paint two paintings at the same time. Or paint and print a T shirt, or make a lino print. I am full of energy and images and can’t wait for the paint to dry. I love the urgency and speed and the bright plastic-ness of acrylic, and I also love spray paint the way it covers space so quickly, so flatly. You make your own luck this is true in painting: if you are too careful you will have no fortunate accidents. And unfortunate ones can always be painted over. If it’s gone - it’s gone no regrets.