The following text was written about about my work by Andrew Renton in 2019
It’s about a desire to possess things or capture them when you know the object of your gaze and desire cannot be grasped. It’s about fandom, which is an elevated form of identification, observation and even time travel.
These sources, collaged together like the back of your old school notebook insist that such imagery, in a digital age, is perpetually present, and belongs to all of us. A shared knowledge and collective ownership. And what does it mean to copy the already copied?
The artist can’t help his gaze. Not always a preliminary model towards a more fleshed out version, the drawing can also reclaim territory that has long been worked out, over-worked, even, and iconic. It rethinks its origins, putting the viewer back into the frame. It’s almost a readymade and comes with baggage. History brought into the present tense. It makes me think about what Kierkegaard said about repetition; that it was a kind of recollection forwards. And nothing less than an ethical engagement.
(And perhaps I should mention that the Fall are my favourite band of all time.) Andrew Renton 2019
David Powell – Zone Paintings
Freeports, Special Economic Zones and Charter Cities are variations on private governance, they are states within states, designated areas of extraterritorial regions carved out from the host countries laws and Big Government. Across the world the most lucrative line of business is in corporate governance, this occurs when venture capitalists, libertarians, and oligarchs seek to implement ‘exit’ strategies from democracy and social governance. F.D.Roosevelt made a request to the public upon his election to the US Presidency, he said “You elected me, now tell me what you want and I’ll do it” this gave rise to the New Deal in 1933, a Social Contract that saw egalitarian economics, GDP saw a fair balance between wage share and profit share, as a result public healthcare, and social services flourished for the next 30-40 years. During the 1950’s numerous right wing libertarian economists and anarcho-capitalists such as Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, James Buchanan, Antony Fisher, Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard were incensed at FDR’S New Deal, which they saw as ‘theft of property’ which placed democratic constraints on individual liberty along with otherwise unfettered capital accumulation. A wave of r/w libertarian think tanks were formed throughout the 1950s to the present day, such as The Insitute of Economic Affairs, The Adam Smith Institute, Mont Pelerin, The Heritage Foundation, The Tax Payer Alliances, and hundreds of others, in the 1950s Hayek and Friedman advised their fellow libertarians to never disclose their partisan ideology to the public as it would entail losing their charity status, along with their plans to usurp social democracy which would horrify the public. In 1981 Antony Fisher, founder of the IEA London(1955) formed an umberalla group that housed these thanks tanks, it was named the ATLAS network, it has since been referred to as the ‘network of liberty’. Think tanks operate as parties within parties, they enjoy charity status yet are funded by dark money from big oil/tobacco/agri/pharma and tech, much of their research is never disclosed to the public and consequently policies comprise deep austerity, anti-climate change, anti-LGBTQ+, culture wars and anti-governance tactics that erode public services with decades of defunding, the goal of right wing libertarians and anarcho-capitalists is to dismantle democracy and the welfare state by installing corporate governance in patchworks or zones of private sovereignties away from the interventions of Big Government. Special Economic Zones have a long history dating back to Roman times, they are also known as colonialist projects (notably by the British)such as the East India Company 1600, through to colonization of Hong Kong and Singapore in the mid 1800s, known as China’s ‘century of humiliation’. Peter Thiel (Palantir, PayPal and billionaire Trump donor) was inspired by William Rees-Moggs 1997 book ‘The Sovereign Individual – How to Survive and Thrive During the Collapse of the Welfare State’ which predicted the arrival of Big Tech as a new form of Feudalism, Thiel recognised that fragmenting regions into privately run zones would birth A ‘thousand nation states’ in dynamic competition with each other setting their own private laws replacing what Tom Bell described as negatively framed ‘statist’ laws. SEZs and charter cities are fenced-in regions, corporate owned enclaves of extraterritorial space with its own private laws, customers (not citizens) have a ‘choice’ to opt in or out by way of a contract. Post Brexit UK is currently undergoing zone fever, Rishi Sunak is installing 12 Freeports and 74 SEZs on the back of 192 English councils threatened with bankruptcy. Since 2016 my research into SEZs and libertarian ideology has seen me become a reluctant political activist with a sizable following on Twitter X. I’m taking part in public speaking events throughout the UK hosted by independent journalists, and concerned citizens who are asking question about SEZs, Freeports and Charter Cities. My zone paintings are material outcomes of this research and activism, ‘exiting’ representation by manifesting their own objecthood through contemporary socio-political contexts, they are attempts at conversations with the surrounding space, I want them to trigger speculations on the past, present and future, of upcoming borders and limits on our democracies.
– Since 2018 I’ve been making work about the British alternative music scene. Many of the bands I’m interested in were given a platform on John Peel’s radio show, if they got too famous he’d usually stop playing them, after all it was about giving exposure to unknown and new forms of music at the margins of the mainstream. My emotional connection with these bands began in my teens at a time when my only goals were to go to art school and see as many bands as possible.
Desire plays an enormous role in my work, years of going to concerts, feeling the build up of an electric atmosphere as I wait for the band to come on stage, the objects of my desire forever just out of reach. My identity was shaped by these experiences and unconventional sounds that flourished in the independent music scene . Art is a kind of time travel, fandom a perpetual state of collective identification and joy. At it’s core my work explores collective memory while embracing social dynamics that strives to bring different audiences together.
The Flower Paintings
Many years ago Jean Luc Godard referred to flowers on the periphery of highways as ‘roadside refugees’, I find a strikingly beautiful familiarity and poignance with Godard’s observation. In 2013 I began to replace human figures in my compositions with flowers and plants, it was a necessary move to reclaim a painterly space that was predominantly populated by centuries of representations of humans beings in painting, a kind of urgency that brought more pressing issues of climate change and survival, the social context filtered through parallel worlds, of hope and raising awareness via different channels.