David Webb
Tourist Smoking Room

2-25 November 2012 
Fri–Sun 12-6pm

Pachyderm, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 40.5x46cm
Tourist Smoking Room (Snake), 2012, acrylic on canvas, 50.5x40.5cm
‘What matters is not the absolute truth but the sentiment that surrounded what happened.’

In the libidinal abstract hopscotch of painting, reminiscence, memory and time are overvaulted. 'The metaphorical traveller stands between the threshold of their inner and outer worlds’. So it is with David Webb’s work in Tourist Smoking Room; paintings transcend their abstractions to ooze and spill their guts of emotional intentions. Webb uses the stories told to him by his grandmother about her time in Tanzania as the trigger for making symbolic reminiscences of an East African other time. These stories become metaphors of passage and longing – a migration via Suez on the SS Uganda, where the patterned tabletops of the floating nursery are conflated with Parcheesi boards seen in a museum in Nova Scotia, or the blurred shape of a blobby, grey toy, prompt Webb to acknowledge that ‘it feels like a good time to both explore and reflect’. These are not mere postcards from either someone else’s misery, or narcissistic family history but something else entirely; they are the schematic manifestation of both conceptual and perceptual space; planes of remembrance or ‘emotion conveyed through colour and shape’. Webb was surprised to discover that the chairs in the tourist smoking room of the Uganda, which he knew from his grandmother’s black and white postcards, were in fact a brilliant blue. Here the dark hearts of continents, internal and geographical, become a transitional place where paint, form and memory collide.

All quotes are taken from The Maternal Elephant, an essay by Eleanor Moreton written to accompany the exhibition.


   Parcheesi (Yellow), 2012, acrylic on canvas, 122x122cm
Parcheesi (VT), 2012, acrylic on canvas, 38x45.5cm


David Webb lives and works in London. Tourist Smoking Room is his first solo exhibition at Transition following group shows There and Everywhere which he curated (2009), The Painting Room (2008) and Fade Away (2010). Recent exhibitions include Oaxaca Stadium at Arch, London (2008) (solo), The Perfect Nude Charlie Smith London (2012), Exeter Contemporary Open (2009), Jerwood Contemporary Painters (2009) and the Jerwood Drawing Prize (2008). Webb is a fellow of The MacDowell Colony and Yaddo in the USA and in summer 2012 completed a residency at The Vermont Studio Center with a fellowship award from The Gihon River Collective.


Parcheesi (Orange), 2012, acrylic on canvas, 30.5x35.5cm
Suez (Pyramid), 2012, acrylic on canvas, 22x17cm
Links / Reviews / Blogs

The Maternal Elephant Eleanor Moreton's essay about David Webb's work

Review by Tom Hammick
Webb and Holyhead – The Uses of Abstract Painting Comment by John Holland