Active Art

Responses to Covid-19 through art

David Downes visualises the invisible enemy through the lens of autism

Following from his first release of new paintings, the artist David Downes has released five more artworks from lockdown that respond to the Coronavirus. Downes, who has high-functioning autism, is painting one per day throughout isolation to reflect what he describes as “the biggest crisis and tragedy of our time”.

Downes’ powerful imagining of the virus, visualising the invisible, have generated a significant response amongst his followers on social media and he has been described as a “War Artist depicting the aggressor, but with a message of optimism.”

The vibrant works depict a range of scenes featuring virus forms, which float in the sky like alien balloons. While some scenarios depict daily life in the time of the coronavirus, such as long queues at the supermarket, home isolation and solo walks, others reveal the turmoil below the surface of our collective psyche. For example, the dystopian Where Once There Were Fields presents a field of occupied hospital beds, while the virus hovers ominously among the clouds.

“These paintings and illustrations, created in isolation, express my feelings about the biggest crisis and tragedy of our times. Time is now forced upon us. We have more time than ever before; time to reflect upon the valiant warriors of medicine, science and politics, to open our hearts to the sick and the deceased and accept that sadly time is running out for many. My hope is that my art reflects a sense of reality and for humanity to head Mother Nature’s warning”

David Downes.

David Downes is a landscape painter who amplifies the sense of place and time through the lens of autism. David completed a MA at the Royal College of Art in Communication Design in 1996. He won his first major contract in 1999, a commission by the BBC to record the Corporation’s most important architecture at the turn of the century and in June 2000 he became artist in residence to BBC Heritage. In 2012, David was commissioned by the Savoy hotel to paint the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant from the Roof of the Savoy. In 2019, David was commissioned by ITV to create a giant mural for the launch of a new period drama depicting the fictional coastal town of Sanditon based on Jane Austen’s last and unfinished novel. 

David is an active supporter of the National Autistic Society and was made a Vice President of the Society in 2012. David regularly speaks on behalf of the charity and paints live at fundraising events. David lives and works in Manningtree Essex with his partner Rachel and their dog Winston. David is represented by Exceptional Agency.
Website: Instagram: @davepowerdraw71

%d bloggers like this: