Dave White delves into the world of great white sharks in latest striking art exhibition

The British artist is displaying paintings from his 'Apex' project in London

Jess Denham
Monday 24 March 2014 18:31
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Dave White's 'Apex (Great White) II' is on display at Chelsea's Loughran Gallery until 5 April
Dave White's 'Apex (Great White) II' is on display at Chelsea's Loughran Gallery until 5 April

Once dubbed "the new Andy Warhol" for his striking oil paintings of sneakers and superheroes, Dave White has since turned his hand to the more intimidating subject matter of great white sharks.

The British artist will soon be exhibiting the first part of his Apex project in London and Los Angeles, focusing on the Animal Kingdom's top predators.

But why centre on such vicious creatures? "Obviously great whites have a nasty reputation," White says. "But in actual fact they’re fragile and beautiful. I want people to look at how rare they are - that’s the crux of it all."

Fascinated by endangered species, his previous Natural Selection and Aquatic series drew on tigers, orang-utans, sea turtles and more. It is the beauty, movement and dynamism of these animals that White strives to recreate in his artworks.

"The way I use paint is very alive, organic and spontaneous," he says. "There are drips and explosions that have always been there. I want to feed life into my imagery."

Acutely aware of the iPhone generation's general detachment with the natural world, White hopes his paintings will help human beings re-engage with animals.

"It seems completely abstract that we inhabit a world with these beautiful creatures, yet they're alien because the only place you get to see them is in a zoo or on safari or something," he says.

The ultimate goal is to make his artworks life-size and yes, that includes a six-metre great white shark. White likes his paintings large and, to date, has produced several such pieces using watercolour on paper.

"With no disrespect to anyone who uses the medium, watercolour is often thought of as twee," he says. "I like to turn that on its head and make these things massive and explosive. The most important factor is that oils and watercolours move in an organic way which adds a dimension of animation."

Dave White's 'Tiger' is larger than life

Inspired by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Picasso and contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakamii, White enjoys exploring anything that has affected him as a child or moved him to comment in some sense.

"I want people to re-engage and look at the incredible beauty of these things," he says. "It doesn't matter what it is, if you just take a step back and have a real look at something, you often leave completely blown away."

One unusual topic explored in White's earlier art is war iconography. The contrast between the aesthetic appeal of guns and the macabre job they are designed to do intrigued him. "These things that are designed to maim and kill are actually incredibly beautiful," he says, emphasising that he has "never condoned any violence whatsoever".

Feeling free to evolve with his subject matter is something White considers hugely important, having "naturally drifted away" from the pop art comparisons of the early 2000s.

"I make what I want to make," he says.

White is exhibiting as part of Sprung at Chelsea's Loughran Gallery until 5 April. Apex runs from 2 May to 21 June at LA's Gusford.

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