What Lies Beneath: David King

Ebb and flow of river captures passionate love of natural world 

David King

A River Runs Through Me

A  River Runs Through Me ’by David King
A River Runs Through Me ’by David King

David King grew up in a "greyer than grey" Dublin. "Thatcherism, unemployment", added to the gloom, "also the National Gallery, at that time very limited when it came to contemporary artistic styles". But, in the early 1980s, King visited New York and discovered Abstract Expressionism: "the scale, the colour, the abstract quality ignited possibilities that have influenced my work ever since".


King's mother worked in fashion, organised fashion shows and "I just loved the attention to detail and the pageantry of those events." Both parents, his father a Garda detective, "definitely inform the way I work as an artist, my mother's flair for form and colour and my father's ability to analyse and form concepts".


Greendale Community School, "an amazing, very progressive, self-directed place where students were encouraged to express their opinions, to think outside the box", suited King. At NCAD, Carey Clarke, "one of the most brilliant technical painters I have ever met", David Godbold, Mick Wilson, Alice Maher, Robert Armstrong, Mick O'Dea, Andy Folan inspired. "I drifted between departments effortlessly, one day in print, next sculpture, then back to painting."


King himself now teaches at Newpark. It's "a personal passion and I often feel that I learn more than I teach". Can art be taught? "A student needs to have a desire as well as some innate sensibility. All you can do as a teacher is show the multiple ways something can be thought about. No way do we want to stifle real, personal, independent expression." But "art history can and should be taught. It is the history of humanity seen through artefacts".

Out in the Sky, King's new show at Solomon Fine Art, features landscape within 5km of his Kildare home. But it's not "a replication of what I was looking at. I want to let the feeling and energy I felt from a location marry with my memories and personal experience to create the images. I now combine representational, the figurative and what is perceived as abstract. One breathes through the other. If you make a perfect representation of something, you only describe its façade. If it's only an emotional or cognitive expression, you may lose the subject. For me, it's the middle way."


A River Runs Through Me, acrylic on linen, pictured here, is not directly indebted to Norman Maclean's novella A River Runs Through It, "but there are a lot of similarities, the river as purification, as struggle - the ebb and flow of life".


Is what's captured here a passionate relationship between you and nature? "Exactly that. I wanted to reach far beyond the surface in this work. I wanted to expose how I felt and talk about much deeper hidden things that we miss so easily. We don't sit still long enough to perceive things properly."


Those soft, rolling, gradated greens and blues, a hint of pink sky, the delicate drips of paint capture outer and inner worlds in a beautifully deep, achieved work. Having painted in oil for 25 years, he now loves "the speed and immediacy" of acrylic. "I can get multiple layers down in a single sitting and the colours feel fresher and more modern."


Did he know how this painting would unfold? He references philosopher Jürgen Habermas: ''You never arrive at producing a work with just the intended maker's agenda. Why would you want to? We can only bring what we are to the work - male, female, gay, trans, rich, poor, etc."


King brings his unique self. He trusts and feels the process "as a child does, enjoying the moment and letting whatever comes in its own time happen".


'Out in the Sky' is online:

January 31, 2021