© Ian Grant. Originally published in David Eastwood: Decoy Décor, exhibition catalogue, 2013.
David Eastwood’s paintings offer us a remarkable reality, a constructed reality that has had no prior existence. They are neither painted directly from photographs of something real nor painted from direct observation. They are an assemblage of images taken from many sources that have been selected and deployed for their part in this fabricated reality. David slightly alters perspective, evokes associations between various components, hinting, perhaps teasing us, at historical and contemporary sourcing and he builds this reality with absolute confidence and virtuosity. The paint is evenly applied and there is no backing away from sharp focus and certainty of representation. The component parts are assembled from precise analytical observation and with equally precise compositional understanding. To do this he must draw on not just skill, but an intelligence sometimes underrated by those who have little experience with the demands of what David seeks to do.
There is also our sense of recognition of both the total image and its component parts to be considered. We are offered hints of Dutch interiors in the patterned floors, or is it hints of Leagues Club carpets? We can find imagery we may link to De Chirico, to Magritte, to late medieval painting or even to a Matt Blatt catalogue – or perhaps not. We need make no conclusions, our response to the paintings doesn’t hinge on the certainty of our deconstruction. We can just explore them, admire them and allow for possibilities in our imaginations knowing that there are no correct conclusions that we must arrive at. They evoke stories but they don’t tell us stories, and this is what we enjoy in them.
There are no figures in the paintings, only the hint of a human presence. There is evidence of activity and objects that might relate to humans, but no figures to become the centre of both image and interpretation. David is very familiar with Dutch interiors of the Vermeer kind but he chooses to not employ ‘staffage’ in his imaging. The hinting of human presence is enough and the completion of any narrative remains the prerogative of the spectator.
David also gives us carefully considered titles for his works and again, very much in the contemporary manner, these titles remain evocative but open. His works are clear and precise in their selection and imaging of component parts, carefully considered in their assemblage and knowing in their suggesting of possible meanings. Yet a precise meaning, if it is needed, remains tantalisingly unspecific and must reside for each spectator within their own response. This is David’s intention and very much an integral part of these remarkable and absorbing paintings.