David Carpanini Exhibition 2020

Monday August 17, 2020

‘A Labyrinth of Shadows’

Private View: Sunday 6th September 2020, 11am – 4pm.
The Exhibition continues until Saturday 26th September, 5pm.

To view the exhibition click here

David Carpanini is one of Wales’s best known and respected artists. He was born into the mining community of Abergwnfi in the Afan Valley, South Wales in 1946, the son of an Italian Catholic father and a Welsh Baptist mother. The Carpaninis had arrived in Neath in 1896 from Bardi, Northern Italy, when his grandfather, then 16 years old, came to work for another Italian family.

When David left school he went to train at Gloucestershire College of Art and Design in Cheltenham, the Royal College of Art and the University of Reading. He is a painter and a printmaker; there is no order of importance: “Each method of pictorial resolution allows me to explore different aspects of my personal vision, which is almost exclusively concerned with that part of South Wales, the place of my birth”.

Formerly Professor of Art at the University of Wolverhampton, David is a member of many prestigious groups including the New English Arts Club and he was the first Welsh President of the Royal Society of Painter – Printmakers. For the last 45 years his paintings and etchings have hung in the Royal Academy Summer exhibition.

It was at the Royal Academy, many years ago, that my mother pointed out, with great enthusiasm, a Carpanini painting. Isolated but dignified figures stared out from the canvas, a backdrop of terraced houses alongside a coal tip. It seemed so sad, why would anyone want to depict this scene, I muttered. “Well, because this is real life,” came her response “David Carpanini was brought up in the neighbouring valley from mine when I was a girl and this is exactly how I remember it”. After that, every year when we visited the RA Summer exhibition we would go out of our way to spot the Carpanini painting – and of course they became instantly recognisable.

We are added to by the Shadow of Leaves

It felt that from that first encounter I somehow had some tenuous link to the artist. Nesta, my mother, and her sister were brought up in the neighbouring Ogmore valley in the mining community of Nantymoel. Throughout my own development and maturity the initial sadness changed to empathy and humility took its place.

This solo exhibition brings together David Carpanini’s paintings, drawings and etchings. The figurative works are punctuated with beautiful depictions of Italy, another homeland that he has visited regularly for over 40 years. As the title for this exhibition “A Labyrinth of Shadows” suggests, there is a deeper message. Carpanini explores the unspoken bonds and chains spanning generations within communities like those found in his own upbringing – but somehow it touches us all and could be almost anywhere.

“My inspiration lies in the contemplation of the familiar. I believe that we have a special bond, a special relationship, with that part of the Earth which nourished our childhood and it is in the valleys and former mining communities of South Wales, scarred by industrialisation but home to a resolute people, that I found the trigger for my creative imagination. I remain grateful for having been there at a particular time in history and with a modest facility to record my reactions. The stark landscape and the close knit and often claustrophobic social infrastructure are fundamental parts of who I am. I have attempted to use the natural drama of this location to explore aspects of the human condition such as fear, isolation, brutality, dignity, pride and hope. These are concepts with which we can all identify regardless of personal circumstances or background.”

Having met David and his wife Jane for the first time just over a decade ago that first tenuous link I sensed all those years ago has grown into a friendship. It is with an enormous feeling of pride that the Fosse Gallery is staging this major exhibition of his work.

Sharon Wheaton 2020
© Fosse Gallery Fine Art 2020