Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

Summer Exhibition 2020
6 October 2020 — 3 January 2021

David Austen
Blue Boy, 2020
Oil and charcoal on flax canvas
167 x 152 cm

David Austen works in a range of mediums, including painting, sculpture, printmaking and film, making both figurative and abstract work. Poignant and whimsical, his imagery has a bittersweet quality and a sense of otherworldliness. Cigarette-smoking moons, shipwrecked sailors, and kissing couples inhabit the worlds that he creates in his work which draw on a wide range of influences including film noir, ancient mythology, literature and art history.

The stylised figure appears regularly in Austen’s practice often as a lovelorn character; drawn or painted naked, pictured falling, lost, or inhabiting an empty space. Blue Boy is a comparatively large-scale work for Austen; the vivid celestial blue colour with its religious symbolism is also evocative of a melancholy state of mind – but Austen’s work is not lacking in humour. There is a sense of otherworldly magic running through his practice even in his most deceptively simple imagery and a tender understanding of what makes us human.

Austen graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1985 and has exhibited widely since in the UK and abroad; most recently a solo exhibition Underworld at DCA, Dundee. His work has been featured in several international group projects and is held in collections including Tate, British Council, and the Government Art Collection.