Art New York Open Studio

Open Studio: New York with David Matthew King

By Drake's

Mar 1, 2024

Open Studio: New York with David Matthew King

“I have memories of every street around here,” says David Matthew King, stood on a busy corner of broadway, a typical New York scene playing out around us. “Here’s where I ran away from someone, here’s where I nearly got mugged. All of these core, New York memories.”

“When you live here, there’s a time when you feel like you have some ownership over the city,” he adds, as we dodge traffic and the crowds on the way up towards the Strand book store. “That inevitably changes. Younger people move in and someone else gets to own the city for a little while.”

The latest artist to exhibit at the Drake’s Open Studio at our shop on 327 Canal St (on display from 7 March), King left New York for Los Angeles back in 2021, looking for a change of scenery and to enter a new phase of his painting practice, which he’s been developing for close to two decades. 

“It’s hard to find something that hasn’t been done, or you think hasn’t been done,” says King.  “I refused to publicly share the works for a long time. I wanted to have the illusion that I’d come out of the gates doing this. It was really the evolution of 16 years of thinking about art and making lists of what not to do.”

Inspired by the greats of American abstract impressionism, King’s paintings are bursting with colour and control, tightly applied to canvas with meticulous strokes. A recent series has seen him enter an off-kilter kind of figuration—hazy fever dreams in pink, green and purple. 

“It’s funny because the biggest thing I’ve heard about my work is that it’s quite joyous and people get the impression that I’m a very happy, joyful person,” says King as we browse the art section of the bookshop, a favourite solo activity of his years spent living in New York. “But I'm not sure that’s how I’d describe myself. I almost try and paint the opposite of how I’m feeling, like, what if I didn’t use any black or any white in this painting? What if I filled them with colour instead, even if I’m not actually that kind of person.”

We head back out onto the street, trying to talk over the wail of a fire engine siren, making our way slowly back to Canal St. “It’s always jarring to come back and see how much everything changes and how quickly that can happen,” he says. “That’s the magic of New York I guess. It’s always moving and reinventing itself. That’s part of the appeal, but I’m always nostalgic for the way things were, too.” 

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