- Dave Pearson
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Dave Pearson was already amassing material relating to his interest in the Space Race, Cosmonauts and Astronauts as a teenager. His first exhibition was in 1961 at the New Art Centre in London on the ‘Astronauts’ theme, when he was 24 years old. There is plenty of remaining material, much of it in poor condition, from this period, as well as many drawings he made at home, and around and about – the local parks, the River Lee, and railway sidings. Dave was already exploring working with a wide range of media – and he made assemblages influenced by Pop artists, such as Jim Dine, although these have been lost.
LINK TO - GALLERY: EARLY WORK 1955 – 1965
In the mid 1960s Dave Pearson developed a deep fascination with Vincent van Gogh, prompted by see Vincente Minelli’s film ‘Lust for Life’, and reading Van Gogh’s collected letters as well as the ‘Symbolic Language of Vincent Van Gogh’ by H.R. Graetz, that was published in 1963. For almost 10 years work poured from him on this theme. It took many forms – paintings, drawings, collages, ‘happenings’, assemblages, enormous tableaux, reconstructions of Vincent’s paintings and even an inflatable ‘Yellow House’. As Dave settled into regular lecturing work, first at Harris College in Preston, and then on the Foundation Course at Manchester School of Art, he gained access to print-making equipment, and started making etchings and drypoints on the Van Gogh theme. His earlier pieces tended still to be influenced by Pop Art, but as his vision developed it became more lyrical, with direct observations from the landscape around Rossendale in Lancashire, where he settled. The period resulted in some major pieces of work, although the large constructions are now all lost. The iconic use of imagery such as the burning candle-bound, wide brimmed sun-hat, the road to Tarascon, and the use of pure blues and yellows is typical of much of the work from this period.
LINK TO - GALLERY: VINCENT 1966 – 1972
In 1972 Pearson began work on a series of 283 paintings and drawings based on the Book of Revelations, the last book of the New Testament. These have been kept together as a collection, and Margaret Mytton of the Dave Pearson Trust has created a special website dedicated to the series.
LINK TO – WEBSITE: THE BOOK OF REVELATIONS 1972
LINK TO - GALLERY: REVELATIONS 1972
From 1973 Dave worked on an English Calendar Customs series. This involved him in extensive research and he produced 14 notebooks, carefully labelled and listing his reading about the many customs, particularly from England, that follow the turning cycle of the year. These hand-written notebooks also contains ink sketches outlining ideas that eventually found their way into his paintings from the series. Many of the paintings in the series are made up of large surfaces painstakingly built up from cardboard, and then painted, often in oils. Another related series of work was In The Seven Woods, from 1981, which was a celebration of the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, itself a calendar custom that takes place on the first Sunday after 4th September. Among the works Dave created around this theme were an extensive and continually inventive series of graphite pencil drawings.
Dave’ father Sam died in 1978, and after a period of hospitalisation with mental illness, his mother died five years later. This must have been a difficult time for Dave, and he painted a series of paintings on autobiographical themes. At the same time he painted a number of self-portraits, although he appeared to have continued to paint self-portraits from this period onward. These vary, many being expressive studies of his own features, but there are also many where his face appears in more symbolic or surreal settings.
In 1985 Dave continued working on autobiographical themes including a stunning series of large canvases. He also completed the very large triptych, Jarrow March, which was exhibited at the Bede Gallery in Jarrow. But by the late 1980s Dave had embarked on the two vast – in scale and ambition – series that occupied him for the next decade – ‘Sailing to Byzantium‘ and ‘Byzantium‘, base on W.B .Yeats poem of that name. This vast series of oil paintings, with assorted and often shaped canvases designed as ‘out-riders’ so the pieces fitted the architectural interiors where they were shown – The John Holden Gallery in Manchester, the Turnpike in Leigh, and the Bede in Jarrow – almost like pieces of a jigsaw. When wall space ran out, Dave hung the painting from the ceilings of the gallery.
LINK TO – GALLERY: BYZANTIUM 1989 – 97
At the end of the 1990s Dave finally began a new line of enquiry in his work. He began to extensively research interpretations of medieval bestiaries, culminating in two exhibitions under the title of The Beauty of the Beast in the large exhibition space at Globe Arts, a shared studio in Rossendale that he joined.. Both were one-person shows and consisted of large and small oil paintings. Part One: The Phoenix, Pelican & Unicorn was October 31st – November 8th; Part Two: The Spirit of the Hyena was November 21st-29th. December: series of work The Green Man exhibited in Globe Arts’ group exhibition.
LINK TO - GALLERY: BESTIARY 1988 – 2000
Dave’s health deteriorated and eventually, in 2003, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Treatment began, with periods of hospitalisation, but the cancer slowly spread. Dave responded initially with a wild and energetic series of constructions, using wood, nails, woollen thread, and found objects, often associated with his operations. These accumulated at the studio he had at Globe Arts (his Haslingden studio was full to the brim), and the studio took on the appearance of an installation. But as his energy declined he began a number of series of works on paper. These include the Encyclopedia series that would continue to his death, and a large series of photographic, collaged, embroidered, drawn and painted work in gouache and ink on paper, under the umbrella of the Encyclopedia series, titled Illness. Dave’s very last paintings, made days before he died, were self-portraits in blue and gold, created alongside Haiku poetry. He died in the early hours of 19th July 2008.
LINK TO – GALLERY: LATE WORK 2000 – 2008