Pent up in shallow places

David Carpanini

Welsh ( b.1946 )

Pent up in shallow places

  • Watercolour & pencil
  • Signed lower left

Image size 15.4 inches x 12.6 inches ( 39cm x 32cm )
Frame size 26.2 inches x 22.8 inches ( 66.5cm x 58cm )

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Professor David Lawrence Carpanini is a highly acclaimed contemporary Welsh painter, draughtsman, printmaker and teacher. He is married to the artist Jane Carpanini. He was born into the tight knit community of Abergwynfi, in the Afan Valley, Glamorgan in 1946. He received his formal artistic training from the Gloucestershire College of Art, Cheltenham, the Royal College of Art and the University of Reading.

In 1969 he won the British Institution Awards Committee Annual Scholarship for engraving. From 1995 to 2003 he was President of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers. He is a Member of the Royal West of England Academy, the Royal Society of British Artists, the New English Arts Club and an Honorary Member of the Royal Watercolour Society.

His first teaching post was as art master at Kingham School from 1972 to 1978; years which he recalls as amongst the most rewarding and fulfilling of his career. His affection for this period is demonstrated by the fact that many years after leaving this post he included images of two of the ladies who worked there in one of his paintings ”Friends and Neighbours”, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1993. From 1992 to 2000 he was Professor of Art at the University of Wolverhampton.

David Carpanini’s drawings, painting and etchings are almost entirely devoted to the communities where he was born and the more general presentation of the industrial scene of South Wales. Lonely figures, bleak hills, ramshackle backyards, perching terraces of houses, dominating chapels and ragged roadside sheep are the images to which he is faithful and to which he attributes the development of his creative imagination. He says “My inspiration lies in the contemplation of the familiar, I believe that man has a special bond, a special relationship with that part of Earth which nourished his boyhood and it is in the valleys and former mining communities of South Wales, scarred by industrialisation but home for a resolute people, that I found the trigger for my creative imagination.”

He says of his Welsh scenes “I have attempted to use the natural drama of this location to explore aspects of the human condition such as fear, isolation, loneliness, brutality, dignity, pride and hope. These are concepts with which we can all identify regardless of personal circumstances or background.

In his own words “with a measure of critical awareness it is possible to go beyond time and place and touch a universal chord of human understanding.”

Indeed, the characters in his paintings, be they ever so ordinary, are dressed smartly, and often smiling; they say something about collective resilience and a sense of dignity. We identify with them because they celebrate our common humanity. So, though most of his works are set in Wales the statements he makes are not confined to the Welsh valleys and the feelings they evoke are international. The titles of his works often have a strong poetic resonance and hint at more personal motivations underlying the characters depicted, and his own ideas of creativity and intent.

Carpanini has also undertaken numerous portrait commissions and more recently he has begun to explore his Italian roots with a series of drawings and etchings of the towns and landscapes of northern and central Italy.

Carpanini’s method of working is to record images and characters in sketchbooks, and by visual memory and reconstruct them in the studio, with the right composition, and the appropriate backdrop. It is a patient process and observations are not always put to immediate use, sometimes taking years to become part of a bigger whole. From his reservoir of materials themes are developed and pictures evolve. The design and manner of his work therefore arises as a natural process of growth, an extension of object and purpose and not imposed in a preconceived way.

He has exhibited at the Piccadilly Gallery, Pattersons, John Martin, Agnews, New Academy Gallery, Fosse, Albany, Attic, New Arts Centre and Bankside. His solo exhibitions include the Welsh Arts Council, Oriel Cardiff 1980, Business Art Gallery RA 1984, Warwick Arts Festival 1986, Mostyn Gallery 1988, Rhondda Heritage Gallery 1989, and 1994, Walsall Museum and Art Gallery 1989, Albany 1991, Attic 1994, 1998, 2002, St David's Hall Cardiff 1999 and Taliesin 2000.

In 2000 David Carpanini was nominated as organiser, selector and invited artist at the National Print Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London.

His work has been acquired by the many prestigious collections including that of Her Majesty the Queen, Windsor, the Royal College of Art, the Permanent Collection of the Royal West of England Academy, the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff; National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth; Newport Museum and Art Gallery; Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea; British National Oil Corporation; The Contemporary Art Society for Wales; University of Swansea; The Rhondda Heritage Park; Imperial College of Science and Technology; The Police Training Centre of Wales; The Welsh Mining Museum; British Steel; Rank Xerox; Redpath Mining Corporation, Ontario, Canada; University of Bangor; Coleg Harlech; National Coal Board; Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs; Department of Environment, London; Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Clwyd, Yorkshire and Avon Education Authorities, Greater London Council; Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge; Ashmolean Museum Oxford.

His works are also collected by private individuals in the USA, Canada, Australia, West Germany, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and Britain.