or Sparkles of Glory
or Perfume Against the Sulphurous Stinke of the Snuffe
or the Light for Smoak
David Thorpe (born 1972) has developed parallel worlds of breathtaking beauty since the late nineteen nineties whose visionary character is fed by his passion for utopian ways of life. Thorpe’s collages, sculptures, and space-filling installations are characterized by the meticulous application of handicraft techniques and unusual combinations of materials.
While his first large-format paper collages depict nocturnal scenes of fictional suburbs, he increasingly focused on untamed natures in his more colorful and detailedly worked silhouettes. The London-born artist entitled this contentual change of emphasis “Escape into the Wilderness” in his book “A Rendezvous with My Friends of Liberty”: Mountain summits, towering pine trees and an expansive sky form the backdrop against which occasionally tiny groups of figures move.
Seemingly futuristic dwellings arise from the boundless expanse of wastelands far removed from civilization that can only be reached via cable car or by means of helicopters. Thorpe unmistakably references nineteenth-century art here, the landscapes of a Caspar David Friedrich or the American pioneer painting of the Hudson River School that represented the landscape as an event and celebrated the natural wonders of the New World.
Thorpe’s pictorial vocabulary comprises numerous written and pictorial sources of inspiration which he samples and contrasts with each other. This is in accordance with the increasing complexity of his collage technique in which he assembles diverse elements into an integral whole: precisely arranged compilations of paper, dried bark and flowers, costume jewelry, leather, slate, model-building wood, pebbles, and modeling clay whose painterly appearance is uncanny from a distance.
The resulting synthesized buildings appear as if they were fortress-like meeting places of a separatist community and awaken associations with French revolutionary architecture by Étienne-Louis Boullée or the organic structures by Bruce Goff and testify to intense dealings with the Arts and Crafts Movement.
Thorpe’s material collages are increasingly expanding into the third dimension and take the real space into consideration: Peculiar sculptural objects tower from simple wooden pedestals, fragile wood and glass constructions seem like afterimages of his architectonic creations, screens divide the spaces into individual compartments – into a labyrinth of references and layers of meaning – and are fitted with minutely detailed watercolors of fantastic plants.
Presence and disappearance are linked in these spaces full of echoes and repercussions into a fascinating parcours through a cosmos marked by autarchy that simultaneously evokes the past and the present. “I was always concerned with producing safe areas when creating art, an inhabitable universe,” as David Thorpe has described it.
David Thorpe has developed a new site-specific installation for the exhibition in the Kunstverein Hannover.