David Auborn. Eyrie

In the epochal uncertainty that the globalized world is going through, which has grown in recent years to culminate in the current health disaster, it is a good time for painting. After a decade of multimedia installation or digital work, which seemed to have moved experimentation on the image to the virtual environment, for some time now a young generation of artists has been regaining interest in exploring current syntactic and expressive possibilities of this medium, thanks to a renewed orientation on the part of collectors in this direction. If digital images pursue an omnidirectional expansion to arouse the immediate and totalizing involvement of the viewer, in the pictorial language the illusion of existence of the artist’s mental representation deposited on the canvas requires a greater effort of concentration to the viewer to enter the fictitious space of the painting and understand its internal logic and then find a ground for mediation with one’s own subjective reality. A dynamic relationship is thus established between the work and the viewer, which starts with the acceptance of the artist’s visual proposal and continues with the projection of the viewer’s self in the parallel universe of painting. In a broader sense, therefore, the metaphor of the window by Leon Battista Alberti is still relevant, understood as a place for representation, as a threshold between the interior and the exterior of the painting which implies a relationship of mutual reflection between the observer and the pictorial occurrence, between the visible and the hidden, between imagination and reality.

David Auborn (Kent, 1990) belongs to this new generation of painters. He is currently the protagonist of the solo show Eyrie at CAR DRDE gallery in Bologna, a word that can be translated into Italian as “nest” but also “inaccessible refuge”. The project brings together as in a magic circle a series of works created for the occasion in small format (the only one that at the moment is congenial to the artist, to the point of being considered a distinctive trait of his style), united by the same chromatic range of pastel shades and formal allusions freely inspired by the biological and botanical imagery. That of the young English artist is a painting that arises in the difficult limbo between abstraction and representation, one always on the edge of the other, where memories, signs, gestures and sounds blend together in a dreamlike setting in which the most accustomed viewers to the history of art will recognize instinctive citations from the masters of historical Surrealism, such as Max Ernst, Yves Tanguy or André Masson, but also echoes of the visionary madness of Hieronymus Bosch. The color has its roots in the porosity of the canvas and, when it blooms on the surface, it identifies ambiguous shapes in which arbitrary references to reality are molded in an unreal way until they become almost unrecognizable. If at first sight the substantial coherence of the whole, the harmony of the chromatic gradations and the naturalness of the chiaroscuro transitions could give the impression of a harmless and ordinary figuration, as one approaches the painting to specify the object of the vision, he discovers with surprise how misleading this apparent calm is.

Every attempt to follow the chiaroscuro lines and transitions of a single form to mentally bring it back to its real matrix (to which it winks slyly only to mislead us) leads in fact to a new visual labyrinth and to a more intricate assemblage of mental situations. Immersing oneself in these visions is like penetrating the fortuitous openings on a mysterious sentient universe that we intuit is much larger and more extensive than the portion that David Auborn allows us to see. The perceptual mechanism stimulated by these paintings is somewhat similar to that of augmented reality, only here it is not the images that trespass into the observer’s living space, but it is the latter that is sucked into a multidimensional tunnel that expands the pictorial field towards multiple vanishing points. In some works one gets the impression of observing under the microscope the cells of a mysterious macro-organism capable of existing both as an integrated system and in the singular self-sufficiency of its components, while in others the reference to a continuous botanical morphology appears stronger. David Auborn represents on the canvas a fluid ecosystem of anomalous connections, which deceive with the apparent plausibility of their internal logics to bring the imagination to a fruitful neutralization of the rational superstructures through which we are used to interpret the visible appearances of reality. The only tool we have to orient ourselves in these precious epiphanies of elsewhere is therefore instinct, the awakening of which coincides with a joyful explosion of plurality.

Despite the emphasis on dreams as a proposal for a polyphonic conception of truth, the process by which the artist achieves these liberating outcomes is anything but random, but derives from a meticulous attempt to create a figuration that, at the moment in which it is specified on the pictorial level, it maintains an unconditional willingness to modify itself in relation to the elements that precede and surround it, without ever seeking definitive stability. And, in my opinion, precisely this ability to leave the work open to the occurrence of new pictorial gemmations is at the origin of the sensual suspension that makes David Auborn’s work so mature and recognizable despite his young age and which engages his expressive language to the multifaceted uncertainties of contemporaneity.


David Auborn. Eyrie
24 October – 23 December 2020
Via Azzo Gardino 14/A Bologna

David Auborn. Eyrie. Installation view at CAR DRDE gallery, Bologna

David Auborn, Ovulean 2020, oil on canvas, 10 x 15 cm

David Auborn, Polesticarna 2020, oil on canvas, 21 x 15,5 cm

David Auborn. EyrieDavid Auborn, Hyronima 2020, oil on canvas, 15 x 10 cm

David Auborn. Eyrie. Installation view at CAR DRDE gallery, Bologna


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