David Downes has high functioning autism, or Asperger’s Syndrome as the condition was previously known, which enables him to record and recreate with extraordinary detail and speed complex forms from memory. This extraordinary exhibition of paintings and drawings sets out to contrast the emotional and physical landscapes in and around two great cities.
In early life, Downes struggled with social communication, yet developed an alternative method of expression; highly accurate draughtsmanship which won him a place at the Royal College of Art. It his ability to recreate a mood and sense of emotion that sets David’s work apart from other artists with autism. His imagination and sense of space, allows him to draw aerial views from an imagined perspective at once giving a sense of scale and minutiae.’
I have always been an artist since I was a child. In my earliest years it was a means of communication and it gave me great joy. I could draw before I could talk and it wasn’t really understood why until adulthood when I was diagnosed with high functioning autism. My work was unusual in that I could draw from my imagination and get perspective from a very young age.
I drew my obsessions, which where churches, windmills, trees, clouds and crazy cityscapes. My art as a young boy was included in a book entitled 6 children draw by Margret Morgan and Artists emerging by Sheila Paine. This was my first breakthrough as an artist.
What/who do you consider your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration is undoubtedly nature, landscapes, skies and water. I am fascinated and sometimes overwhelmed by the power of nature and how manmade objects such as buildings and factories work within that fabric. I love the diversity of all types of landscapes! I am currently living in California and the seascapes and deserts blow my mind In England, its London but also the views of my home county Suffolk.
What connection do you feel to architecture?
The connection is how fascinating all these crazy buildings are! From our homes, to monuments of power, state buildings, to banks and churches, Windmills and thatched cottages. To Trump Tower and the Shard. I spend hours staring at buildings wondering how and why they were even built and what they represent at a social and political level.
What messages do you like to portray throughout your artwork?
I aim to create structure, atmosphere and expanse in my work, a sense of scale and minutiae paradoxically in the same piece. I try to create a representation of a large complex scene that people can comprehend. In all cities, including Detroit, New York, LA, London, I am most interested in examples of the passing of time, the juxtaposition of old and new.
David Downes will be in residence across the Second Floor until Saturday 2nd June.