Since I was 25 I have experienced six relapses of major depression. As much as this illness weighs heavily on my entire being I have somehow learnt to fight this internal beast over time and live with it. As the saying goes “destruction breeds creation” (Anthony Kiedis). Over the years I have recovered fully by developing a new series of paintings marking each episode. I have always called these series the recovery paintings. After my second to the last relapse in 2014, I had the strength to paint imagery directly referencing my irrational thoughts during this time. Returning to the studio this year after my last relapse I felt blank, I had no idea about how to approach painting. I had already explored the darkness in my last recovery series. However I knew I needed to paint to feel like myself again and to recover 100%.
I did something I have not done in many years. I started to look at painting, I mean truly look at the artists that I love and paintings that have excited me on and off since I first became a painter. I noticed that a lot of these painters were neo-expressionists. So I have decided to create a top ten list of painters I love. A HERO list. I wanted to paint in a way that would pay homage to these painters and at the same time develop a language that is uniquely my own. Recovery is now about colour, paint, energy and love. Dark necessities inverted to create good vibes only. I soaked in works from my hero list, mixed them all together and painted as if it was my first cave painting. Primal, human, need, energy and spirit.
—David Griggs, 2018
Earlier this year David Griggs was announced as the Artspace Sydney artist in residence for 2018. Griggs is also presenting a major survey exhibition BETWEEN NATURE AND SIN, which is currently touring Australia until late 2019. It is now on view at Cairns Art Gallery, Cairns. He has exhibited extensively throughout Australia and South East Asia, including notable exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne; Blacktown Arts Centre, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Artspace Sydney; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney and Manilla Contemporary, Philippines. This includes New York Paris London Rome Manila City Jail, at Green Papaya Art Projects in Manila as part of a cooperation with Asia Link and the Australian Embassy (2009).
Griggs has been selected as finalist in the 2007, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018 Archibald Prizes. In 2003, Griggs was awarded the Freedman Foundation Traveling Scholarship for Emerging Artists, the Willoughby City Art Prize in 2001; and in 1997 the Sir William Dobell Art Scholarship.
Griggs’ work is held in major museum collections in Australia as well as important corporate and private collections internationally, including the Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; University of Queensland and the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney; Tamworth Regional Gallery, Tamworth; Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, NSW; The Powerhouse Museum, Sydney and the Joyce Nissan Collection, Melbourne.
David Griggs has been represented by Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery since 2011.