A Slice of Italy - and Wales; ENTERTAINMENT 1 David Carpanini, One of Wales' Most Distinguished Living Painters, Can Be Seen at the Height of His Powers at a New Show at Swansea's Attic Gallery - His First for Three Years, Writes Jenny White
Byline: ARTS & CULTURE edited by Karen Price
ROM sombre Valleys streets to the luscious landscape of northern Italy, David Carpanini is a virtuoso painter whose work is deeply connected with his own Welsh-Italian heritage.
FHot on the heels of a major retrospective of his work in his hometown of Leamington Spa, he is exhibiting a new body of work at Swansea's Attic Gallery, the result of two years' intense labour both in the UK and in Italy.
Born in the Afan Valley in 1946, Carpanini trained at the Gloucestershire College of Art and Design in Cheltenham, the Royal College of Art and the University of Reading, and is a member of many prestigious groups including the New English Art Club, the Royal Cambrian Academy, the Royal Watercolour Society and the Royal Society of British Artists.
He may have lived in England for many years but his focus on the landscape and people of his childhood home remains as strong as ever.
"My inspiration lies in the contemplation of the familiar," he says. "I believe that man has a special bond, a special relationship with that part of the earth which nourished his boyhood and it is in the valleys and former mining communities of South Wales, scarred by industrialisation but home to a resolute people, that I found the trigger for my creative imagination."
It has often been noted, however, that his work is far from parochial - instead, he uses his subject matter to embrace universal themes.
As he puts it: "I have attempted to use the natural drama of the location to explore aspects of the human condition such as fear, isolation, loneliness, brutality, dignity, pride and hope."
These effects are in no small part due to the poetic tensions created by his skilful composition.
Carpanini considers himself lucky to have been educated at a time when such "traditional" drawing and painting skills were routinely taught in art colleges.
"For me, the process of design is crucial to articulating my thoughts and feelings about the objects that I'm actually looking at," he says.
"In order to do that, there are mechanisms and processes and well-tried devices that have been used for many hundreds of years. These are the kinds of things I was taught and have always found very important."
Partly because of this, all his paintings and prints are studio assemblages, unhurried distillations of sketchbook observations, photographs and visual memories. He keeps many of his notes for months or even years before they find their perfect place in one of his pictures. …