DAVID SMALL ‘Sweet Tooth’

In both Jerwood Contemporary Painters 2010, and last year’s Marmite Prize for Painting, David Small’s work manages to be simultaneously attractive and reflective, decorative and quizzical.

While earlier work of his we’ve shown at studio1.1 was arguably brighter (after time spent in Brazil his paintings sometimes flashed colours like Amazonian birds – an almost disharmonious hymn to lived beauty) his latest paintings form a more measured spectacle. The colours may be more muted but they can still startle (the scale of these paintings belies their pyrotechnics) and It is the nuance, the controlled explosions that arrest our attention – from the overall to the minute – the point at which we teeter on the brink is the moment we are brought short by another flash of exquisite delicacy. There is both wit and generosity in the pattern sequences which allow further variations to echo in a counterpoint for the eye. They breathe with a sober sublimity.