A. S. BYATT - "Shade" 1994
At first sight, I was excited by the sharpness and richness of the colours,
and the jigsaw-like interlocking forms. David had been experimenting with
fine brushes in small spaces like Persian miniatures. The scarlet creature
stands out at first, its legs or twigs an odd number, oddly disturbing. Then
it becomes the red of shade dancing in hot light and other forms stand out.
Amorphous, bimorphous forms - a fish that is a vegetable uncurling or a
stone under water. Petals that are teeth. Roots that are claws. Insect
pincers where pretty leaf shade was. I saw the looming black bird that is
the shade last. And leaf-ribs that are the veins of the retina seen in hot
light. Persian miniatures are delicately composed, a balance, a still dance.
David Royle’s patches of colour are always - large or small - uneasy and
riddling to relate to each other. Living with "Shade" is like living with a
series of interlocking duck-rabbits, or vase-faces, of great beauty and some
menace. The painting won’t keep still, the image, though always
memorable, is never quite the same next time I look. That is the pleasure of
living with it. And my admiration for it has increased as I have come to
PETER CRUMP - "Vincent in the Garden IV" 1984
"Vincent in the Garden IV" hangs in my averagely sized living room
surrounded by an extraordinary amount of stuff. The antithesis of a
gallery, everything about this space is a compromise including its other
function as office to my working day. Peering from behind a permanently
wedged, half open door and flanked by a legion of books, the lower edge
of this tall painting is partially concealed by much accumulated clutter.
Despite the unfavourable viewing conditions, and the familiarity that
fifteen years of ownership brings, I look at the painting nearly every day.
There is always a new angle, a change in the light, the discovery of an area I
haven’t studied closely before. Sometimes, looking over my shoulder from
my desk, I catch something going on with the colours and have to go over
for a closer look. At other times it’s the painting’s theme and subtly shifting
atmosphere that beckons. Set in the garden of Saint Rémy Hospital the
tragic figure of Van Gogh, under hallucinogenic medication, rises up,
seemingly escaping the world that torments him. The mood of euphoria,
evoked by blazing colours, yields to the cold, earthly reality of his plight
and then swings back again as the figure, locked in a kind of purgatorial
dream state, can neither fully ascend nor return.
Vincent in the Garden IV 72 x 36ins 183 x 91.5cm
MIKE DIBB - "Old Earth" 1994
I first met David when I filmed with him in his studio for a
documentary I was making about the writer A.S.Byatt. There
were large paintings stacked against one wall and others
hanging on almost every available surface of his West London
home. One painting in particular took my eye. For the last
four years it has occupied one wall of my living room. I look at
it frequently and each time some aspect of it appears
different. Partly this is because the vivid colours and textures
respond almost magically to the changing play of both natural
and artificial light, on occasions creating an illusion of a third
dimension, of something bursting through the wall. More
precisely it is because the painting as a whole and its
individual images are suggestive but ambiguous...Are we on
land or underwater?...Are these the rivulets of a waterfall or
Old Earth 36 x 48ins 92.5 x 122cm
the tendrils of a tree?...Is this a butterfly’s wing or a leaf, or maybe a fish?...Are we looking at the edge of our planet or
through a microscope? The painting feels simultaneously hot and cool, volcanic and subterranean. Many people
comment on it as they walk through the door. I think what they respond to is what first struck me; not only are the
elements within the painting perfectly balanced yet constantly moving, they are also like life-forms in the process of
transformation, themselves given life through the transformative properties of paint itself.
SOPHIE HALL - "Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe V"
The builders finally left our new house and the
first thing we did was hang one of David’s
paintings on the bare plaster walls of the front
room. Two years on and it’s still there against the
bare plaster but it is a blaze of colour that lights
up the room.
What I love about the paintings is that they feel
optimistic - it is hard to be depressed when
looking at such vibrant colours. The paintings are
also very accessible without being patronising - I
had never bought any "art" before I bought one
of David’s paintings but as soon as I met him I
knew this wasn’t going to be a problem.
Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe V 36 x 66ins 91.5 x 167.2cm
I can remember going to his first show at the Beardsmore Gallery and falling in love with the paintings - the intensity of
the colour mixed with the hint of darker undercurrents was very seductive. At the time I was a student so I have had to
wait to buy my first painting but it was worth the wait.