NEW YORK - Versatility is a plus when it comes to making art, though it can be tough to get a handle on an artist’s work when he spreads his talent over multiple media.
Certainly Enrico David’s artistic versatility is amply on display in his current show at London’s Michael Werner Gallery: Abstract wool wall hangings mix with large paintings and weighty bronze sculptures. The show, on view from September 17 through November 2, possesses the same character of surrealism infusing all of David’s work. But, as the Italian-born, London-based artist told me recently, “There’s an element of unpredictability” in his work.
Enrico David's After Birth, 2013. Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London.
Well said. Bodies in transformation is a motif that David returns to—such as a face emerging out of a pod-like shape in an untitled painting from this year—but he’s also exploring more purely abstract work.
“I find all these different avenues to make work interesting, and that doesn’t make for an easily readable interpretation,” said David. And there’s something slightly trippy about it all. The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones put it well when he wrote, “Weird is the simplest word for the art of Enrico David.”
If you want to be both amused and confused at the same time, this article in Frieze Magazine is a fun head-scratcher about the artist, who was based in Berlin for years and only recently made the switch to London.
Enrico David's Room for Small Head, 2013. Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London.
All of David’s pieces, however, spring from the same solid and surprisingly traditional foundation. “The starting point is always drawing, and I’m committed to representing the figure,” said David, whose work is also currently on view in the “Encyclopedic Palace” exhibition at the Venice Biennale.
The fact that he was chosen to be in the Biennale by his countryman Massimiliano Gioni is a very good sign indeed, and it makes a lot of sense given the show’s underlying theme of dreamers and utopias. The Werner show will be up during Frieze, so give it a look if you’re in London for the fair.