Gallery Visit – Ian Davenport (b. 1966) in Zurich, Switzerland

Ian Davenport – Cadence (15th April – 28th May, 6th June – 16 July, 2016) at Gallery AndresThalmann (

Already in the context of my personal project as started during part 5 of Drawing 1 course unit, I was fascinated by the work of Ian Davenport and his ‘color obsession’ and puddle paintings of parallel color stripes in multiple variations. At truly process painting approach with resulting paintings of colourful vibrations.

In Zürich the Gallery Andres Thalmann is the sole representative for Davenport in Switzerland.

Ian Davenport is also a musician. The title ‘Cadence’ of the exhibition derives from that. It means basically ‘a regular beat or rhythm‘. Besides this it also means the ending part of a piece of music (Merriam-Webster).

Davenport applies different techniques, the key surely is liquid acrylic paint application on a primed (in one or two colors) thin aluminium plate. During the process of painting Davenport bends the lower part of the metal sheet onto the floor in order that the liquid acrylic paint merges into ‘puddles’ – a randomly generated flow of paint. I understand that Davenport uses metal plates for achieving a better flow performance of the paint. Interestingly Davenport applies first a layer of monochrome color (e.g. yellow or magenta) before applying his paint stripes. This gives then also the title of the work. Example:
‘Colourcade: Yellow, Magenta’, 2015
Acrylic on stainless steel mounted on aluminium panels (2 panels, 200 x 200 cm)
[Online image] Available from: [accessed 29 June 2016]


Ian Davenport – ‘Colourcade: Orange and Yellow’, 2015

Another technique is etching (prints on paper), what I could not figure out with the gallery representative how Davenport is doing it. I have to do further research on that. Nevertheless I found the color are more dull and less saturated compared to the bright acrylic paintings.

I was eager  to go into a good discussion with the gallery representative (this is truly an advantage of galleries compared to museums). Also I showed her my own work (picture of  ‘Site Fall‘, 2016) inspired by Ian Davenport and Robert Long 🙂 I asked the representative whether the artist ever thought about turning the painting upside down (what I did with my work). She mentioned he would not see it like that but I would have loved to discuss this with himself. Perhaps next time or I will send him a message. I need to get connected anyway at some time 😉

A bit hidden – and I assume not so popular as the largest puddle paintings were already sold – are some works on paper with acrylic paint with more open / empty space.
One example is:
– ‘Staggered lines: Three columns, 2015
Acrylic on paper (153 x 122 cm)
[Online image] Available from:  [accessed 29 June 2016]

Actually here the works are change upside down, leaving more empty space at the top. I feel that this is closer to the human perception of gravity and balance, were the masses are at the bottom (earth) and the space opens up to the sky (like the trees in a forest).


After the gallery visit I crossed the street and went straight into a bank ( yes, that’s what Zurich is famous for, right?) to see one of his larger works in the foyer:



Ian Davenport in front of Jelmoli, Zurich

Fascinating at the end to see the very large scale of one of Davenport’s puddle painting in front of the refurbishing work for Jelmoli, of one of the biggest premium department store in Zurich downtown (large print of a smaller scale painting):


Overall it was very good to see Davenport’s painting as original.  The visual effect of the paintings live tremendously with the brightness and vibration of juxtaposed colors. I compared on the spot with a picture taken with a camera, such a difference. The beauty of his works that one do not need to think or too reflect too much, just look and sense the ‘music’ of the colors. The paintings express a constant rhythm quite close to the rhythm of music.

Take away for my own work:

I have to reflect on how much I want to dig into the color as an expression by itself. With my research on color field painting by Mark Rothko, or Josef Albers, Barnett Newman and Xerxes Ach, I find that there a multiple ways of ‘playing’ with colors to trigger mood and sensations. Ian Davenport found another way in this context. What would be my way? I have a strong feeling that it will take still a long way.


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