David Whittaker 'Bird in the Mammal House'

21 Sep 2012 – 16 Oct 2012

St Ives, United Kingdom


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Industrial spaces, killer heels, human debris and English landscape, the remnants of Christ being dragged through the room, the fires are in my head, the germination has begun, the transition of life outbound. David Whittaker. 2012 Millennium is proud to be hosting this major solo exhibition of new work from The National Open Art Competition 2011, First Prize Winner — David Whittaker. ‘A Bird In the Mammal House' offers a powerful reflection on the human condition in an honest and uncompromising way, something that Whittaker is becoming increasingly renowned for. Whittaker's painted portraits, primarily of heads, succinctly capture the messiness of existence balanced perfectly alongside inner utopian desires. Tumultuous, almost aggressive oil work blur the boundaries between the 'inner' and the 'outer'. Images of romanticised, crystal clear English landscapes fill the metaphysical void — these are portals into idolised worlds surrounded by the chaos of reality. When faced with these 'heads' the reference in the exhibition title to 'The Mammal House' at London Zoo becomes clear, almost as if these monumental beasts stare at you from their isolated pens. The small birds that surreptitiously find their way into these enclosures add to the fleetingness of the image and the sense that something fragile in these paintings and in the human condition has been caught like a butterfly to be cherished within the case of the canvas. The presence of these birds perhaps unconsciously references Whittaker's feelings of being 'a small bird in mans big world', a cross pollination that relates to his gender dysphoria which he was diagnosed with three years ago — something that continues to have a profound effect upon the work ensuring a universal balance and conflict. The exhibition also includes three mixed media sculptural works - If the paintings arguably focus on inner utopia, then these works (which can also be seen as portraits) reflect with sometimes brutal yet beautiful and fragile honesty the human debris of day to day - as with the paintings the stage is frozen and distilled so that we can experience and unravel the core of the subject. This tone continues in smaller works on board which seem to illustrate a fragmented figure of 'The Crucifixion' utilising collage often charged with both inconsequential and highly confrontational imagery from the media - these moving works are very much reflect the events of the here and now. Whittaker's complexity, integrity and fearlessness gives him a distinctive and original voice and this exhibition is his most important to date.


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