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Lottery Win Enables British Artist to Create Perfect Linear Equation

Ian Davenport
Ian Davenport
Originally Published 14 April 2004

The hypotenuse is the latest muse to inspire Turner Prize-nominated abstract artist Ian Davenport, who has just completed a dazzling large-scale lottery-funded artwork created by pouring thin straight lines of paint down a wall in the University of Warwick’s new Maths and Statistics building.

The shimmering curtain of colour was created by pouring lines of paint down a huge 30 x 35-foot wall. The bright colours are combined to produce a striking lined wall painting.

The technique of “pouring paint down walls” makes the physical process of producing the work sound deceptively simple. Davenport works with paint that drips and flows, but he calculates the effect of each colour on the next very carefully. He uses acrylic paint that flows freely and applies it using a syringe at the top edge of the wall.

Davenport is energetic and innovative in the process of making paintings. The piece shows his interest in the physical activity of pouring and manipulating paint, and in the action of liquid and gravity across the surface of a picture.

Sarah Shalgosky, Curator of the Mead Gallery and the University of Warwick’s Art Collection, who commissioned the piece from Davenport said: “The vast wall of glittering colour provides a magnificent centrepiece to the architectural spaces of the new building. Ian Davenport's colourful shiny paintings never fail to create a huge visual impact. He has a real ability to demonstrate the expressive possibilities of abstract paintings. A recent report highlighted the special ability of mathematicians to take on abstract concepts and think them through in spatial terms. Davenport does exactly the same thing only using paint rather than numbers.”

“The new piece of art will be incorporated into the University of Warwick’s educational outreach work through the Colour Trail that introduces ideas about abstract painting and the properties of different colours to school children across the region.”

Artist Ian Davenport added: “The piece is ‘public art’ and is about the physical relationship of art, colour and the viewer. It’s about how people react to colour and the relationship of colour with the viewer. Conceptual art has had a long history of exploring theoretical ideas, such as abstract mathematics, in sensory form, providing the perfect basis for this type of exploration.”

Davenport, from Peckham, southeast London, is a YBA (Young British Artist) Generation artist and Goldsmith’s graduate. He has won prizes for similar work. In 2002, he won the Pizza Express Prospects contemporary drawing prize for a wall illustration. He has also exhibited at Tate Liverpool and has work at the Tate Britain.

Photo and Interview Opportunity: Ian Davenport will be at the University of Warwick’s new Maths and Statistics Building to unveil his latest work of art on Friday 16th April at 1.15pm.

For more information contact: Jenny Murray, Communications Office, University of Warwick, Tel: 02476 574 255, Mobile: 07876 21 7740 or Ian Davenport, Mobile: 07951 229 632

The project was funded by the Contemporary Art Society Special Collection Scheme with support from the Arts Council of England Lottery Fund on behalf of the Mead Gallery, University of Warwick.