David Wightman

“You must spend time with Wightman’s paintings; on the surface they are beautiful and intricate, but like the layers they are made from, there is so much depth to these works – they contemplate not only artifice, but also the natural versus the man-made. His combination of craft and skill redefines genres and blurs meaning. As an emerging artist it’s only a matter of time until David Wightman justifiably gains wider recognition.” - Cherie Federico, Editor, Aesthetica Magazine.

Selected Works


David Wightman

Acrylic and collaged wallpaper on canvas

Josephine iv

David Wightman

Acrylic and collaged wallpaper on canvas


David Wightman

Acrylic and collaged wallpaper on canvas


David Wightman
British, b. 1980

Contemporary artist David Wightman builds layers of hand-cut wallpaper and paint to create both abstract and landscape paintings in a method similar to marquetry. He has made a career out of the pursuit of hybridity in an attempt to occupy ‘the space between abstraction and landscape, high art and low, the home and the gallery.’

Born and raised in Stockport, David Wightman studied Fine Art at Middlesex University and then gained a Masters in Painting at the Royal College of Art, London. Fuelled with references to his own background, Wightman’s paintings include ‘kitsch’ connotations which are imbued with nostalgia. He takes wallpaper, an everyday material, and elevates it in an attempt to make the viewer think differently about it. Wightman admits that the wallpaper has a personal connection, as he grew up in a house papered with ‘cheap but aspirational wallpaper’.  The material reminds him of his past and has parallels with Andy Warhol’s use of tins of Campbell’s Soup in his art.

Inspired by Caspar David Friedrich and Ad Reinhardt, Wightman creates his landscape and abstract ‘target’ paintings using a systematic process that relies on craft and discipline. Every work is made from individual pieces of wallpaper, painstakingly cut with a scalpel and placed side by side, never overlapping. After stretching a canvas, he applies the wallpaper, then sands and primes the work, ready for painting. He states wistfully that the process is ‘far more labour intensive than the end product suggests’.

Wightman’s abstract works are simpler, with the colours and forms worked out first in small modelli on paper; his landscapes are originated from found images, sketched in Photoshop and then transferred as cartoons to canvas before collaging and painting. The imagery seems familiar and beautiful but in fact is banal, for example a mountainscape taken from a chocolate box. He reproduces these in greyscale, rendering them almost ‘documentary-like’ in order to embrace the colours he does use, which he describes as ‘bright and camp’ ideals of landscape.

Landscape and abstraction intrigue Wightman as genres because they have both fallen out of favour in contemporary art discourse. He sees the strong emphasis on geometry in his work as a ‘lament to geometric abstraction’. His take on established genres that art criticism has declared as obsolete – sometimes ironic, sometimes mournful – results in a homage to nostalgia and homeliness. As he puts it, ‘my work is an attempt to reclaim abstraction (and landscape) on my own terms’.

Wightman is one of a 100 artists ‘with an innovative and outstanding submission’ selected to participate in the Aesthetica Art Prize at York St. Mary’s, York Art Gallery’s contemporary art space, from 8 March–28 April (2013). He has also been commissioned to create a work for HOUSE 2013, part of the Brighton Festival from 4–26 May (2013).

For six months in 2010 to 2011, Wightman took up a residency in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, awarded by the Berwick Gymnasium Arts Fellowship. His solo exhibitions include Paramour at Halcyon Gallery (2012), Homage to Loreleia at Berwick Gymnasium Art Gallery (2011), Secret Name at Sumarria Lunn/Art Work Space at the Hempel, London (2010), Behemoth and Other New Paintings at the Cornerhouse, Manchester (2009), Aspirations – New Paintings at William Angel Gallery, London (2008), and New Work at Found Gallery, London (2007). Art fairs include the London Art Fair (2010 and 2011), KIAF – Korea International Art Fair, Seoul (2010), and the Venice Biennale (2009).

Wightman has been shortlisted for the Fringe MK Painting Prize, Milton Keynes (2010), the CUBE Prize, Manchester (2008), the Celeste Art Prize, London (2006), and the Jerwood Artist Platform at the Jerwood Foundation, London (2003). He was a finalist for the Lexmark European Art Prize, London (2003), and winner of the Hunting Art Prizes Young Artist of the Year at the Royal College of Art, London (2003). His works are held in the collections of the Royal College of Art and General Energy UK.

Exhibition Highlights

2003  MA Painting, Royal College of Art, London
2001  BA (Hons) Fine Art, Middlesex University, London

2010–2011  Berwick Gymnasium Arts Fellowship, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland
2003  Annual Studio Residency, Florence Trust, St Saviour’s, London

2013 Redux, 10 Gresham Street and Halcyon Gallery, London
2013 David Wightman, 10 Gresham Street, London
2013 Hero, HOUSE 2013, Brighton and Hove Festival
2012 Paramour, Halcyon Gallery, London
2011 Homage to Loreleia, Berwick Gymnasium Art Gallery, Berwick-upon-
Tweed, Northumberland
2010 Secret Name, Sumarria Lunn/Art Work Space at the Hempel, London
2009 Behemoth and Other New Paintings, Cornerhouse, Manchester
2008 Aspirations – New Paintings, William Angel Gallery, London
2007 New Work, Found Gallery, Trinity Buoy Wharf, London

2014  Akris collaboration, 30 Old Bond Street, London
2011  Gallery Artists, Halcyon Gallery, London
2011  Seeking New Landscapes, Halcyon Gallery, London
2010  Junoesque, Hackney Wicked Art Festival, London
2010  Geometry is Never Wrong, Wieden + Kennedy, London
2010  New Year Show, Blackheath Gallery, London
2009  Medical Foundation Art Auction, Sumarria Lunn, London
2009  Open Studio, Hackney Wicked Art Festival, London
2009  In a Word, Sumarria Lunn, London
2009  Travelling Light, Wilson Williams Gallery, London
2009  Mink Schmink, Wilson Williams Gallery, London
2008  Open Studio, Hackney Wicked Art Festival, London
2008  Aureole, installation in St George's Church, Stockport
2008  Shoplifters, Conway Hall, University of the Arts London
2008  New Work, Serco, London
2007  Christmas Show, My Life in Art, London
2007  New Work, Neo, ExCel Centre, London
2007  Gallery Artists, Rowley Gallery, London
2006  Beneath, Surface Gallery, Nottingham
2006  ReNew: A Collaboration, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool
2006  Prelude, Spitalfields Market, London
2006  Twisted • Cognitive • Sublime, Wine Gallery, London
2006  What is Domestic?, one.c, South Brent, Devon
2006  Lived in, Chapel Gallery, Ormskirk
2006  Viewing Club, Uxbridge Arms, London
2006  Eyestorm Gallery, Ipswich
2005  Opening Show, My Life in Art, London
2005  2D Open, Surface Gallery, Nottingham
2004  My Fest, The Foundry, London
2004  RCA Secret, Royal College of Art, London
2004  Summer Show, Florence Trust, St Saviour’s, London
2004  Spring Show, Blackheath Gallery, London
2003  Under Construction, Florence Trust, London
2003  Eye Jam, Ogilvy & Mather, London
2003  The Show, Royal College of Art, London
2002  Painting Interim, Royal College of Art, London
2002  Diversion, Royal College of Art, London
2001  RCA Secret, Royal College of Art, London
2001  Degree Show, Middlesex University, London

2009  Venice Biennale

Royal College of Art Collection
General Energy UK

2013 Aesthetica Art Prize, selected, York St. Mary’s, York
2010 Berwick Gymnasium Arts Fellowship, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland
2010 Painting Prize, shortlisted, Fringe MK, Milton Keynes
2008 CUBE Prize, shortlisted, CUBE Centre for the Urban Built Environment, Manchester
2006 Celeste Art Prize, shortlisted, Old Truman Brewery, London
2003 Annual Studio Residency, Florence Trust, St Saviour’s, London
2003 Lexmark European Art Prize, finalist, Eyestorm Gallery, London
2003 Hunting Art Prizes, Young Artist of the Year, Royal College of Art, London
2003 Jerwood Artist Platform, shortlisted, Jerwood Foundation, London


David Wightman, Redux

20 Sep 2013 - 31 Jan 2014

3rd Floor, Harrods, London


19 Apr 2012 - 20 May 2012

Seeking New Landscapes

7 Mar 2011 - 10 May 2011

29 New Bond Street, London


David Wightman Paramour Catalogue

April 2012

News & Press

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Akris and David Wightman Collaboration

Halcyon New Contemporaries

David Wightman Paramour Press Coverage

David Wightman Paramour Press Release