Cornwall Contemporary 1 Parade Street, Penzance

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David Mankin

28 August - 25 September 2021


David Mankin | Encounters 28th August – 25th September 2021


‘David Mankin is one of the the most exciting Abstract Expressionist painters to emerge in recent years. There is something momentously appealing and emotive about his paintings. His unique perspective on the Cornish landscape manages to provoke more depth of feeling, emotion, and excitement amongst art collectors and admirers than most other artists I know’

Sarah Brittain-Mansbridge Director, Cornwall Contemporary

 ‘Remembering in Paint’ the book about David Mankin can be purchased in person at the gallery.




The Cornish landscape infects the mind. There are few places which contain such a tangible personality: the capricious nature of the sea, sky, and elements, vacillating from bright and clear, to dark and foreboding within a moment. It is this swing that Mankin finds so arresting; how the changeability of the weather transforms the visual and visceral experience of this wild, ancient place. It allows him glimpses, small chance occurrences, moments of clarity: the sweet smell of yellow gorse, the flight of a gull on a summer’s day, the darkness of a winter storm, the muted jades of autumn sea. These sensory catalogues of contrast in form, colour, texture, mood, spatial relationships, and emotion fuel and propel Mankin’s work. He states, ‘from a painter’s perspective, the juxtaposition is so enticing. It feels primal and raw and physical, but also beautiful and serene.’ These disparate encounters and minute experiences are strung together visually to create a sense of place. Mankin collects and layers these occurrences within his paintings. They rove over different sightlines and perspectives, bringing us the big and the small, the rough and the smooth, the fluid and the geological.
There is a poeticquality to the way Mankin surveys and absorbs the Cornish landscape. He searches for and amasses visual encounters to describe the experience and emotions of a time and a place. When Mankin carries these back to his studio, both physically and psychologically, he will unleash them on to his canvases like a poet stringing together metaphors. ‘As a painter every day is an encounter, not only with the canvas you’re working on, but with the  materials, the choice of colour, the paint application, and the tools. My process is one of intuition, change, transition, improvisation, embracing accidents and taking risks, to see how far I can take a painting.’

Mankin’s process from landscape to canvas generates a series of experiments and discoveries. He is continually searching for an equilibrium between the formal qualities of the painting and the experience he is transcribing. The initial explosion of mark making, free association, and gestural paintwork is Mankin’s response to the emotional pull of the Cornish landscape. He will then temper this energy through periods of continuous refinement and analytical thinking, using each new encounter with the painting to balance colour, texture, and composition.
This exhibition is named Encounters because it describes exactly Mankin’s relationship with painting. An ‘encounter’ implies an element glimpsed in the landscape, the shape of a stone or the colour of turned earth, whilst simultaneously reflecting a developing conversation with the materials, as a representation of the creative process. Mankin’s paintings feel both experienced and built, engaging the viewer on two levels. His paintings transport the viewer into the fray of his dynamic Cornish landscapes, whilst involving them with a thoughtful and roving surface. We can see where Mankin has built up, scratched back, changed direction, moved forward, pulled away. The painting’s history and rhythms are tangible. This is, fundamentally, why we are so arrested by Mankin’s work as viewers. He generates a visceral response. One unearthed mark, one part-hidden hue, will generate a memory, a feeling, a sense of something mistily remembered. We do not only feel the sea spray on our faces, the warmth of the sun, the drama of high winds, whilst standing in front of a David Mankin painting, we feel it speaks to us directly, excavating our own weathered, private, devotion to land and sea.

Kate Reeve-Edwards 

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Cornwall Contemporary
1 Parade Street
Queens Square
TR18 4BU

Telephone: 01736 874749

opening times:
Monday - Saturday  10 - 5

Gallery Director:
Sarah Brittain-Mansbridge

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