David Brewster

Making paintings is a habit of my being, and from early childhood I’ve sought out a kind of theater, often choosing opulent interiors and sylvan landscapes that are somehow distressed, threatened, disintegrating, forgotten or abandoned. Throughout my development I have continued to revisit these same scenarios, with their heightened sense of drama, movement and collapse, inviting the spectator to cross a threshold to confront aspects of our culture that are evolving or perishing. My paintings sit within a tradition the French call premier coup, meaning “all at once.” They are most often executed in one swift pass, with the graphic urgency of improvisational response underscoring all decisions and informing the energy of the mark. The evolution of my artistic approach has been a constant destruction and rebuilding of visual infrastructures and vocabularies, drawing more and more into realms of emotion, mood and poetry far detached from naturalistic representation and surface appearance.

Presently, I’m drawn to recent climate disasters—the severe flooding in my home state caused by hurricane Irene, and the devastation along the Eastern seaboard by hurricane Sandy—which resonate profoundly with the topics and issues I’ve been engaged with throughout my career. The radical movement and change, the terrifying moments of destruction and subsequent rebuilding inherent in these extreme weather events match my particular temperament and technique. I feel the method and velocity of my painting approach harkens to a gale force moving across the surface, with exploded forms and floating objects barely hanging on to the subject, creating a lyricism and unity of their own.

David Brewster, November 2012


Born in Baltimore in 1960, David Brewster earned his MFA in Philadelphia in 1988, and since then has been invited to paint, teach, study, and exhibit throughout New England, the mid-Atlantic, in the high desert of Eastern California, as well as in Brittany, France, and Ireland. Brewster’s work has been the subject of over 25 solo gallery exhibitions, and has been reviewed in Art in America, Art New England, Art Scope, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Boston Globe and The Baltimore Sun.  He’s represented in private and museum collections including the Berman Museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, The Orton Foundation, Princeton University Art Museum, the Pennsylvania State Museum, the Wharton School of Business, and the W.P. Carey School of Business at Johns Hopkins University.  He has received numerous awards including grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and the Taconic Berkshire Foundation, as well as fellowships at the Ballingen Arts and Klots foundations. He’s represented by Walter Wickiser Gallery, New York, NY; Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; and C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, MD. Read more about David Brewster on Wikipedia.


Interview at Bartram’s Gardens, Philadelphia, 2013:

Seeing Earth and Sky from LEI LEI on Vimeo.