Spectrum is the latest solo exhibition from contemporary painter David Armitage. One of the Uk’s finest unsung talents of abstraction, he has been described as a ‘supreme colourist’, and garnered respect from fellow artists and critics, as well as enjoying successful exhibitions both nationally and internationally.
Born in Tasmania in 1943 Armitage studied at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology where he lectured in life drawing and portraiture during his final year. In 1967 he moved to New Zealand and took up the post of Exhibitions Officer at Auckland City Art Gallery, curating national and international exhibitions. He has lived in the UK since 1974 and exhibited widely, including shows in London, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Bristol, Auckland, New York and Montreal.
Over several decades Armitage’s work has shifted, grown and developed. Fine tuning his technique through a combination of experimentation, planning, and practice, has led him to be described as ‘one of the UK’s leading colourists.’ As with many of the Abstract Expressionists before him inspiration and subject matter are as wide as the human condition. Life, death, passion, and tragedy are all here glowing through the washes or struck across ambiguous backgrounds in fervent brush strokes of searing colour.
This latest exhibition will feature a variety of paintings from series on Victims, Shrines, Puppets and Masks as well as large scale abstract pieces. These running themes have been returned to over the years as places and events spark inspiration. Of the Victims Series Armitage says:
“A childhood passion for the work of Francisco Goya and a parallel fascination and horror of the Spanish inquisition has never left me. The plight of the victims reverberates through history into our own times. Death in all its forms remains much the same.”
Other works are inspired by objects, landscapes or music; his fascination for spiritual, tribal or mythical goes beyond the obvious – Momento Mori, shrines and tribal art – to include intensely emotive places and the intangible and complex beauty of a musical composition.
But all of these inspirations are in the end a backdrop to or an enrichment of Armitage’s primary passion, and that is colour. The exploration of both colour and the medium of paint, which has driven many great painters since the Abstract Expressionists, is Armitage’s impetus. The relationship he has built up over time with this most primary of artistic mediums has been a balance, with Armitage mastering the use of colour and mark, whilst accepting his part as slave to the medium; inviting accidents as part of the creative process.