The artist David Downes, best known for large scale aerial cityscapes such as the Diamond Jubilee Pageant commissioned by The Savoy, was diagnosed with high functioning autism at the age of 32. Now in his 40s, David is moving into a new phase of his career with intimate portraits of Hampstead and North London. In The Draw of Hampstead, we focus on how David's art has enabled him to express his emotions through painting, particularly around the beauty of Hampstead, Kenwood and Highgate.
Autism affects the way in which those with the condition are able to relate to others, but through his painting, David communicates the widest possible range of emotions, and has established himself as a well respected career artist, likened to Paul Nash and with a loyal following of collectors of his of his originals and prints.
Dubbed a child prodigy due to his artistic talent, yet unable to talk until the age of 4, David's style has evolved from a rigid illustrative discipline, as per his training at The Royal College of Art, into softer, more fluid painterly brush strokes. As a child David would sit for hours and look at the sky, and to this day, clouds and vapor trails are a key feature in David's work.
Moreover, the extreme level of detail and depth of emotion make his current work more akin to Turner, Ford Maddox Brown and Constable and like many of London's now legendary artists and poets, he has been drawn to the idyllic Hampstead Village and Heath.
David paints partly from his imagination, often depicting an aerial perspective he has not actually seen. He has for his entire life felt different and he often appears in his paintings dressed in a stripy t-shirt.
Appointed as Vice President of the National Autistic Society in 2012, David speaks publicly about living with autism and actively raises money for the charity.
David Downes: Draw of Hampstead will feature more than 20 new paintings of scenes in and around Hampstead.
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