David Urban’s practice mediates between abstraction and representation, using an energetic and deeply considered engagement with line, gesture and colour. Known through the 1990s as an abstract modernist, Urban’s solo show at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto) in 2002 surprised visitors with representational paintings. His practice is always developing and sharpening, demonstrating a balance between what he knows and what he is discovering.
Urban has exhibited works in prominent commercial galleries across Canada, the United States and Europe, and is represented in many private and public collections including those of the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa). In 2002, Urban curated “Painters 15” for the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto) and the Shanghai Museum of Art, the first survey of contemporary Canadian art to take place in China. In 2010, Urban was identified by Toronto Life magazine as one of the top 10 artists for investment for first-time buyers.
—Courtesy of Waddington's
Signature: Signed, titled, and dated 1996 on the overflap
Private Collection, Ontario
Sable-Castelli Gallery, Ltd., Toronto
About David Urban
One of the most celebrated Canadian painters of his generation, David Urban produces oil paintings that range in palette—from rich, vibrant color to grays, blacks, and earthy tones—and often occupy a space between abstraction and landscape. “I don’t make any distinction. For me there is just painting,” Urban has said. He draws elements from modernist painters including Piet Mondrian and Kasimir Malevich, and his thickly applied paint, painterly gestures, and use of geometric forms has prompted comparisons with Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Willem de Kooning, and Philip Guston. Urban’s earlier work typically featured fields of color intersected by ribbons of contrasting hue; more recently he has included figurative elements, such as a yellow kite and a “reccurring spheroid” which “conflates an eyeball with a skull,” as he describes. Sunno (2012), which is influenced by Urban’s fascination with music, comprises a rough rendering of an amplifier with lines bursting out of it toward red rectangles.
Canadian, b. 1966, Toronto, Canada, based in Toronto, Canada