David Gray paints elegant, refined still life paintings and beautifully realized portraits in the classical realist tradition.
In both his portraits and still life paintings, he evokes a feeling of stillness and contemplation, though in the portraits that feeling is often pierced by the quiet but intense aliveness projected by his subjects.
Similarly, Gray works with muted, limited palettes that are often punctuated by a single intense color. That kind of duality, in color, in emotional tone, in light and dark, and in the compositional contrasts of form and negative space that define his compositions, seems to pervade his work.
Many of his portraits are part of a series in which he explores a fascination with head wraps, and the contrasts of folded cloth against smooth skin. Though I was immediately drawn to a portrait of his daughter that seems very Vermeer-like, echoing the pose and colors from Girl With a Pearl Earring (images above, second down), Gray states that Vermeer was not in his mind when he composed and painted the piece; and that he takes his inspiration for figure and portrait painting most prominently from Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres.
David Gray is the subject of a featured article in the March 2011 issue of Southwest Art magazine. The online version of the article, which also includes a gallery of Gray’s work, can be read here.