David Farrant

White Dress by David Farrant
Beach Life by David Farrant
Afternoon Shadows (Paper) by David Farrant
London-born (1938) contemporary figurative artist, David Farrant is one of that select breed of currently-practising artisans who benefitted from a further artistic education at one of the UK’s most prestigious centres of creative learning; namely Central Saint Martins. To those not in the loop, this enduring establishment has given rise to a long line of formidably and supremely talented artists, musical pioneers, fashion designers and general creative types and amongst its alumni number; Kissy Sell Out, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Jarvis Cocker, P J Harvey, et al. And of course a raft of current contemporary artists of every genre and persuasion, including the subject of today’s sermon, Farrant.
Farrant’s art focuses on women and puts them at the centre of his habitual compositions; whether they are seated at a dressing table, walking a dog in the tideline, reclining at a promenade café or propping up a bohemian bar somewhere. They’re quite simply everywhere are Farrant’s women. Beautiful, enticing, sophisticated, liberal-minded and free, these women which Farrant illustratively depicts with such graphic relish and pictorial elegance are habitually caught and crafted in the afternoon sun, portraying an honest light and reflection which instils an immediate quality of depth with regard to each and every scene Farrant lovingly paints and sets.
Following his secondary schooling and the aforementioned stint at ‘the art factory’ that is Central Saint Martins, Farrant wasted little time in establishing himself as a contemporary figurative artist to be reckoned with and has to date enjoyed an impressive career with highlights including staging exhibitions at London’s National Portrait Gallery and at the Mall Gallery in association with the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. In terms of Farrant’s spell at the National Portrait Gallery, it was here that he became a finalist in the John Player Award for Portraiture in 1989 and since then has also accepted and fulfilled in excess of 20 portrait/figurative commissions, most of which went on to appear in private collections all over the world.
Explaining what inspires him to paint – and a la fellow contemporary figurative artists, Hopper and Vettriano - Farrant insists that this stems from everyday scenes of human activity and interaction with both others and/or their surrounds and immediate environs, and emphasising the role that light has on his muses (motion-packed figurative and still life) Farrant talks of the intent and interplay of solid shapes and their complex shadows. Putting this question to the artist himself at some point, Farrant has gone on record as saying; “I look for my subjects anywhere that groups of people congregate - bars, restaurants, beaches, streets - but am often taken by surprise by a briefly glimpsed tableau that cries out to be captured”. Farrant has also strayed a little further away from home than some of his peers do and has been known to regroup in European cities and even the Caribbean as he has sought out more exotic subject matters and cultural experiences on which to base his studies.
Farrant also confirms that for the most part his compositions set out to hint and hopefully convey some sort of story, or if not, at the very least, a narrative which the viewer can then run with. He stresses how he ensures, pictorially that there’s always something present to intrigue the viewer in the same way as he himself is intrigued by my subjects. Relying on memory, Farrant also gives his memory a rest by also putting down sketches and collating a few photographs, once he’s got a specific scene/potential painting in mind, and as is so often the case amongst the creative community Farrant feels compelled to act rapidly once inspiration strikes, so as not to later dilute the envisaged moment. Farrant’s preferred mediums are oils and acrylics, with the latter said to provide quick drying times which allows the award-winning artist to paint further elements swiftly onto the dry surface.
Citing his artistic heroes both old and new, Farrant mentions the existence and collected works of hugely influential figures such as Velazquez, Sargent and Manet, alongside contemporary figurative exponents of the brush including Ken Howard. Returning to what he does best however and underlining what he hopes to achieve, graphically with every new piece, Farrant summarises his own creative ideology by concluding; “I like to think my paintings work on two levels - firstly, and in a formal sense, as compositions in which strong tonal contrast, accents of colour and simplification of form are key elements. Secondly, and in a narrative sense, I hope they carry a mood and the possibility of an unfinished story which the viewer can share”. Something which we can all truthfully say that Farrant pulls off on a regular basis.

View All Art Works By David Farrant