Fundamental to Leigh Davis’ work is a sense of energy. Instinct is key, at the very centre of his bold, expressive abstract painting and intimate sculptures. The Nine British Art is therefore delighted to present the first major exhibition devoted to Davis’ work: A New Perspective (October 10th-26th) will both introduce this fine artist to a wider audience and confirm his place as a rising star of British contemporary art.
Drawing on his love for artists of the St Ives movement, the wild beauty of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are a constant guide for Davis - yet he takes such familiar work in thrilling, new, 21st century directions. Relying completely on his memory of colour, atmosphere and light for his studio-based abstract paintings, Davis employs a vivid, energetic use of line and paint as layers and textures are built up in work such as Green Cliffs, Levant, North Cornwall.
There’s something raw and moving, too, about Davis’ work derived from a visit to the old quay at Newlyn; the weathered Returned from the Sea series is elegant, elegiac and restrained.
Davis, who has a background in design, began his artistic practice in Staffordshire as a realist painter - and believes that the skills he learned gave him a greater understanding of the form and structure so key to successful abstraction. Nowhere is this more evident than in the series of works inspired by his trips to the Tower Colliery in Glamorgan. The mine is a stark industrial contrast to the beautiful rolling hills of South Wales, and takes on a fascinating mechanical, robotic, almost predatory form in Davis’ Pithead series.
These works are reflective of Davis’s desire to give his paintings depth, structure and movement - a three dimensional feel which finds its natural end point in his sculpture. While the sculptural pieces have their own stories and inspirations, they certainly feed off and speak to the painted work - none more so than in his fascinating RAF Cosford series with their distinct aeronautic feel. After seeing the remains of a crashed Dornier Bomber at the airfield, Davis was intrigued by how an aircraft had itself transformed into a piece of sculpture - which directly fed into his spectacular bronze, Grounded Form.
“A New Perspective is the completion of two years’ work,” said Davis, “and I hope seen together at The Nine British Art it will have a cumulative effect, a thread running through that people will be able to see and enjoy when they come to the Exhibition.”
“We have been following Leigh Davis’ career with interest for some time now,” added Stephen Paisnel, owner of The Nine British Art. “With our increasing emphasis on contemporary art, Leigh is the perfect fit - a painter and sculptor of rare depth, vitality and thoughtfulness who we are sure will appeal to new and existing audiences.”