31 October 2015
David Bent Movement 2000: art collection seeks home
Much like the subject matter of this collection of eight paintings – refugees, migrants and people on the move generally – Movement 2000, by Swindon-based artist David Bent is looking for a home. One in which they can be viewed, absorbed and digested at length. All of which they certainly need and deserve.
Before I go any further, I should state that I’m in no way an art expert. I know nothing of the art world nor do I know anything about the discourse of art. But, as with a piece of music that either appeals to my ear or it doesn’t, so it is with art. It appeals to my eye or it doesn’t. And I’m not much interested in art for art’s sake – merely art that I like. And I DO like David’s art. Pretty much all of it. So there! Right, now I’ve got that off my chest we’ll move on.
David Bent is very well known for his aviation art, and you can see more of that here: http://davidbentstudio.com/category/aviation-art.html
But of course, as you’d expect from a prolific and talented artist, there’s more bristles in his paintbrush than that.
And his Movement 2000 works, two years in the making, are just one example.
I wouldn’t like to say that this collection is the most important or best work David has produced – who know what lies ahead? But nevertheless I reckon the term ‘Magnum Opus’ is an appropriate enough description for these works.
On a visit to David’s Open Studio I got a glimpse of this body of work and a sense of its importance to David. But it was just a glimpse – other visitors etc, etc. So David kindly invited me to his studio again to have a proper look at them and to tell me more about the collection.
But before I share some of that here’s some thumbnail images of this fabulous set of paintings. They can also be seen here: http://davidbentstudio.com/gallery/movement-2000.html
The turn of the century
So I learnt from David that it was in the late 1990s as we headed towards the millennium, that he was inspired, moved, driven even to create a major piece of work to celebrate and to mark the world’s calendars turning over into a new century.
He wanted these paintings to make a big visual statement. And they do – in every sense of the word ‘big’.
Choosing ‘Movement’ as the umbrella title for this group of paintings David was inadvertently prescient as around this time the Balkan/Yugoslav conflict was raging. And of course, wherever there is conflict there are refugees. People on the move seeking sanctuary.
And never were these paintings more relevant than they are today. Sixteen years later the world is seeing the greatest exodus of people possibly since Biblical times. And, interestingly enough, ‘The Christening Party’ features an obvious Biblical reference.
The Circle of life
I’m loathe to say much on what the paintings are ‘about’ as we each take different things from art. But I’m sure David won’t mind my saying that, although full of detail, they are also pretty easy to deconstruct. As far as I’m concerned that’s a virtue.
What goes around comes around and the circularity of the world and of life is, I think, central to these paintings. As is the notion that where we are in life is largely an accident of birth. ‘There but for the Grace of God go I’.
On a slighter lighter note I think it’s safe to say that planes, trains and automobiles – and ships – feature in these works also – though you might have to look for them. So there’s movement literally as well as metaphorically.
Conceived as an installation piece, these paintings demand that you spend some time with them. They work on more than one level for sure. Certainly the more you look at them then the more you see. Get close up and you see one thing – step back and you see another. Then once that ‘thing’ is seen you can’t stop seeing it.
With a broad geographical theme, they’re structured works, each of them running from right to left, then from left to right with a central focus and detail along the bottom of them. Like much of David’s work there’s lots of personal detail in them too. Himself as a teenager, his dad, his brother – people, places and things that have resonances for him are peppered throughout the paintings.
David’s ideal home for the works is a sort of rotunda with ten sides. Each of eight sides will house one painting, one side for information and the tenth side missing to form an entrance.
From the exterior it looks rather like a temporary shelter/a yurt like structure such as might be seen in refugee camps – as is fitting with the subject matter of the paintings with ‘Home Sweet Home’ above the door.
It has a central post with mirrors on allowing for a different perspective and a solar panel on the roof. I don’t think President Obama comes with the paintings though …
The pictures below of David’s model ideal home gives a better idea than me trying to describe it.
Aside from a period in 2009 when they were exhibited in Swindon’s Artsite building they’ve not left the studio.
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing for these works about movement to do some moving of their own to a new home where they can be appreciated fully?