Ian Davenport Interview
Giardini Colourfall Swatch Faces 2017

Ian Davenport Interview
Ian Davenport Interview

Ian Davenport Interview. In 1985, Swatch commissioned Keith Haring to design a limited series of watches. The colourful, graphically printed timepieces by Haring – then a young artist emerging from New York’s Downtown scene – have become prized collectibles in their own right. To this day, Swatch continues to champion contemporary art: in Shanghai, the brand operates The Swatch Art Peace Hotel, an enclave for emerging creatives in a historic district of China’s largest city, and in Venice the brand returned this year as the presenting sponsor of the city’s art fair. For the Venice Biennale 2017, Swatch partnered with Turner Prinze nominee Ian Davenport. An alumnus of London’s Goldsmith University, Davenport has become a household name for his vivid poured-paint artworks, one of which Swatch is exhibiting this year. Transported from Davenport’s London studio, the rainbow like piece now sits centre stage surrounded by Venice’s historic Giardini pavilions.

Wide Acres of Time is Davenport’s second work debuted at the Venice Biennale 2017. Much smaller in scale than Giardini Colourfall, the piece in fact adds Davenport’s free flowing riot of colour to the classic Swatch watch. An addition to the Swatch Art Special collection, Wide Acres of Time is a limited edition; 1966 pieces (the artist’s year of birth) kept safe in a special edition box, alongside a written expert of  Ian Davenport’s brother’s poem of the same title.

We spoke to Ian Davenport about Giardini Colourfall, Wide Acres of Time and how using the classic Swatch watch for a canvas has influenced his own work.

What was it like being asked to design a Swatch watch ?

It’s fantastic to get criticism in different areas and I think to have the experience of designing a watch is really exciting. I have a lovely student who works for me, – who is probably one of the biggest Swatch fans in the world –  and she does a sort of wacky project with me, and every time there was a bit of a gap she’d say to me: ‘Do you think we should design a watch?’.

The maquette of your design for a Swatch watch is very much larger than the actual timepiece; I wonder what importance scale plays in your work? How did you resize your artwork to fit a Swatch watch?

It’s a kind of Photoshop process. What we wanted to do was to make something which allowed for a bit more painterly-ness and materiality to go into the progress. That is sort of really my thing; dealing with materials and working with paint in a really sculptural way. We were looking to do that. Then I thought it could be tweaked on Photoshop to tidy it up, if there were any bits that we weren’t sure about. It was a way to also make sure that it perfectly fit the template for a watch. There is a number of different templates that you have to put it into. What does a watch look like? Two long bits and a circle. So we got the idea of it and then we could do something that was more accurate and to scale. Very quickly, from what we were doing you kind of knew that you were 95 percent there. I think the sort of journey that you have, you have to go a little bit one way and the watch has to go one way and hopefully you meet in the middle!

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In your paintings, the puddle of the merging colours is normally towards the borders. With your Swatch watch, this is actually the focal point at the centre of the watch face.

It’s something I want to play around with quite a lot in a way because I think I started to feel like there are other ways I could take the paintings. This was sort of a way to test it out, seeing how that would work. Sometimes you just need something to push you a little bit more, because you can get into a bit of a pattern. You make paintings and they look great and you enjoy it and then a project comes along and you have to do this – it has to work within a framework. Sometimes having a project that pushes you and different questions are asked of you scale-wise, what the objects is going to be and how it is going to be used, that’s a good discipline to get into. It encourages you to think a bit more laterally.

Ian Davenport Interview
Ian Davenport Wide Acres of Time

 

Ian Davenport Interview
Ian Davenport Wide Acres of Time