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DAVID JANE – PROFILE

David is a painter, sculptor and printmaker from London whose work has appeared in a number of galleries, including the Welcome Collection. After an experience of suffering encephalitis which caused a loss of memory and speech, he turned to the scans of his brain for inspiration and to understand how the incident could be communicated and understood.
The works submitted are purely digital in final form but started their life as paintings combining pigment with wax. David then photographs the paintings and works on them digitally, manipulating and layering the images until they become something new. These layered digital paintings create pictures inside pictures, refracting spaces and fading environments, mimicking memory and our imperfect recollections. Alex Flowers, Digital Programmes Manager, V&A

Recently, the work has begun to suggest another, more surprising journey; from the structures of the brain to the structures of the mind.  The more detailed his portraits become, the more apparently abstract they are.  It is as though, the deeper he goes, the closer he comes to painting, not things, but visual ideas. “We can meld science and art together,” says Jane.  “And we’ll do that not to obscure what’s going on, or prettify it, but to make it clear.  I want to open the doors of understanding into the scientific interpretation and artistic vision of brain scan images, so that people can see them as things of beauty as well as knowledge.” Simon Ings, New Scientist.

Jane’s work far exceeds these stated ambitions.  “When you look at David Jane’s work.” Says Denna Jones, curator at the London-based Wellcome Centre for Medical Science, “your reactions aren’t anything to do with the disease.  It’s not even to do with that interest in body-mapping you see so much of these days.  It’s simply a continuation of self-portraiture – part of a tradition five centuries old.”  If the 18th-century painter William Hogarth had had access to the technology Jane’s uses, “he’d probably have done the same thing,” says Denna Jones. Wellcome Centre

“It is possible to trace Jane’s developing attitude to his experience of the disease in his increasingly controlled and vivid handling of his material. One series presents sequences of imagers, homing in on particular structures of the brain: cells and nodes loom from the darkness like approaching headlights in some surreal storyboard.  But perhaps the most impressive works restore these medical records to their true, visceral charge.  The new, forceful draughtsmanship is reinforced by an inspired use of colour, breaking through those powdery surfaces.  To sya that the end result can sometimes recall the intensity of Sutherland or Bacon is to stray into a somewhat bloodless, theoretical world.  But it might be truer to the experience to say that sometimes one feels the artist has rubbed flesh directly into the surface of the canvas.  And that, despite this, the work remains both disciplined and beautiful.” Charles Hall, Art revive.

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