Hello David Spriggs, it is such a pleasure to sit down with you and have this conversation. Please share with us what the process of coming to embrace your remarkable aesthetic language was like. How did you evolve as an artist to have concluded with the style we enjoy today?
Embracing my unique aesthetic language has been a long journey. I have tried just about every style of art since I was young. My current aesthetics began in 1999 when I developed a pioneering technique of layering transparencies through space and painting on them. This method allowed me to create sculptures without traditional forms, using images to construct my art. Over time, I expanded this technique to create monumental works that offer viewers entirely new experiences. My artistic evolution has been marked by a constant exploration of the possibilities within this layered space, leading to the distinctive style you see in my work today.
Can you please give us a précis on your creation process?
I often draw inspiration from a wide range of sources, including historical art movements, philosophy, nature, and science. This layered space was fascinating to me as I could represent subjects in such a way that have never been seen before. Unlike the history of much of sculpture which is largely material based such as marble sculptures for example, here was a way of making sculpture without true form, using images to build sculpture.
Beyond the visual aesthetics and the technical, my artworks often carry deeper conceptual layers. Themes related to power, perception, and form are integrated within the pieces. Over the years, I have pushed the boundaries of my technique to create artworks on an extremely large scale. This scale enhances the immersive nature of the art, enveloping viewers in a unique visual experience.
Your work with human forms evoke Greco-Roman frieze figures or the shell portraits of Victorian cameos which are then suspended in water lite by a diffused light. What does the quality of stasis say about your work? Does this hauntingly beautiful technique hold ulterior meanings?
The presence of the human form in my artwork, as shown in pieces like “Gold” and “Regisole,” plays a significant role in connecting with viewers. It’s worth noting that the stillness inherent in these human forms draws parallels with the appeal of classical statues from antiquity. Statues from the past continue to resonate with us precisely because they are frozen in time, devoid of real movement. This very absence of vitality captivates our attention and imagination.
What sets my artworks apart is the deliberate interplay between this stillness and the implied motion within the forms. Many of my creations convey a sense of movement, whether it’s the subtle swirls in “Axis of Power” or the atmospheric quality that suggests dynamic forces at play. This intentional contrast between the stillness of the figures and the perceived motion in the surrounding space creates a tension that engages the viewer. This tension acts as a gravitational force, compelling the viewer to explore the artwork from different angles and perspectives, thus enabling a more immersive experience.
Beyond this dynamic interplay of motion and stillness, each of my artworks carries deeper layers of meaning. For instance, in the artwork “Gold,” the figures are not merely representations of the human form but serve as symbols of larger concepts, particularly the realm of commerce. The title “Gold” and the imagery refer to the ornate pediment adorning the New York Stock Exchange. This layer of meaning adds depth and complexity to the artwork.
“Gold” also makes reference to a historical artistic tradition known as “pittura infamante” from the Renaissance period. This tradition involved artists painting political figures upside down as a form of protest, as it was considered dishonorable to depict someone in such a manner. In this context, “Gold” can be seen as a modern interpretation of “pittura infamante,” employing symbolism and visual language to comment on contemporary issues of power and authority.
I am aware that a number of your pieces serve as social commentaries about the state of our world: such as fiscal inequality or class injustices. How do your works that contain underlying meanings balance against your more abstract ones? Do your abstractions also present an opportunity for some kind of introspection, if so, which kind?
The interplay between my works with underlying meanings and my more abstract pieces is a reflection of my belief that art should always have a message. Sometimes, these aspects overlap seamlessly. I never create art without a deeper message, whether it’s a direct representation of power, as seen in “Regisole” with its armored police officer, or a more abstract exploration of power, as in “Axis of Power.”
My hope is that all my work, whether abstract or figurative, prompts viewers to think more deeply about the subject matter and engage in introspection. The abstract pieces, like “Axis of Power,” provide an opportunity for viewers to interpret and engage with the artwork on a more personal level.
In your Prism series you tackled the power dynamics and concerns with modern surveillance, yet this was done so subtly that it seemed permitted and unthreatening. How do you strike this near perfect balance of humanitarian regard with approachability?
I believe that art should draw viewers in and hold their attention, especially in an era saturated with images. In my artwork, I use aesthetics and beauty to seduce the viewer, creating an initial attraction that invites them to spend more time contemplating the piece.
The subtlety in addressing complex issues, such as power dynamics and surveillance in my “PRISM” series, allows viewers to approach the subject matter without feeling overwhelmed or threatened. It’s about creating a space for reflection and dialogue rather than imposing a specific message.
Where do you create your concepts? Do you draft in any digital mediums first before producing what must require a meticulous and well calculated organizational process?
It all begins with hand-drawn sketches and extensive research. These sketches serve as the initial visual concepts that help me refine and visualize my ideas. They are the starting point for translating abstract concepts into visual forms. I immerse myself in research, gathering insights and exploring themes.
This research phase allows me to develop a deep understanding of the historical, cultural, and social contexts relevant to my chosen subject matter. I sometimes transition to digital mediums. This digital exploration enables me to experiment with compositions, and the arrangement of layers. From there, I proceed to the meticulous layering of transparencies, hand-painting, and drawing.
As your work has grown it seems that you have become less representational and more abstract. Do you think this movement towards organic/cosmic forms reflects your inner condition? If so, what has changed most in you from your earlier works?
It’s important to note that I haven’t shifted away from representation but rather embraced an interplay between representation and abstraction. I believe that my recent artworks represent a more refined and evolved stage of my artistic career.
Please, if you could, share some words of wisdom with our audience about perseverance in the art world, and about how to maintain confidence with their original ideas.
My advice to aspiring artists is to stay true to your original ideas and artistic vision and to believe in yourself.
David Spriggs website: davidspriggs.art