Water Levels, 70" x 84"
The Bridges of David Eddington
Reviewed by The Santa Monica Mirror
Most people are unaware that Los Angeles has 14 historic bridges spanning the Los Angeles River. Maybe they have glimpsed them from the freeways, or driven over them without thinking about them.
David Eddington, an artist from England who has lived in Venice since 2001, is fascinated by the Los Angeles bridges. His exhibit at Frank Pictures Gallery, “Endangered Bridges Over the L.A. River,” features metallic acrylic paintings of the bridges that render them as classic art objects, dream visions, and personal portraits.
Eddington has taken each bridge and given it a color palette that conveys its spirit as he sees it. His rendering of the “Macy Street Bridge” at the border of downtown and East L.A. concentrates on one of the bridge’s Spanish Baroque porticos, as if it were a miniature white Greek temple. “Drawn Bridge” represents the underside of a bridge, with all its girders painted in a greyish tone, accented by dabs of red (rust?).
The “ 4th Street Bridge” seems to be a night view, with the bridge’s balustrades and piers in vivid red and a background in deep blue. If one looks closely, outlines of human figures can be faintly seen under the bridge.
“Under 7th Street Bridge,” on the other hand, is the happiest of the paintings, if happiness can be gauged by the colors - bright yellow, green, and red superimposed on the underside of the bridge, as if the rust of “Drawn Bridge” had changed to the flowers of spring.
The largest canvas is the spectacular “Water Levels,” a view of two bridges, the one in the foreground a viaduct (a multi-span bridge that crosses both water and land features). The dark tone of the viaduct, the bluish water (admittedly prettier than the water that actually flows in the L.A. River), and the misty golden sky create a setting that suggests a world of bridges stretching into infinity.
Eddington found it inevitable that the bridges of Los Angeles should serve as his models and muses. As he says in his artist’s statement, “The grandiose aspirations and sadly displaced persons of L.A., random metaphors for dominance and progress, are here on my doorstep.” So the human figures that are half-hidden in some of these paintings represent those displaced individuals who indeed live under the bridges. Eddington’s work reminds us that the bridge can be home, a transportation tool, historical document, memorial, art object, and civic symbol.
The Eddington exhibit at Frank Pictures Gallery is being presented in conjunction with the Los Angeles Conservancy, which has provided booklets with information about bridges for both adults and children. A portion of the proceeds from sales of Eddington’s paintings will go to the Conservancy to help maintain and restore the bridges.
The L.A. Conservancy recently held a workshop for children at the gallery, where artists guided children and their parents in making bridges from paper and plastic soda straws. As they discovered, building a bridge isn’t as easy as one might think. But thanks to the Conservancy, and to Eddington’s attention to authentic details of bridge construction, even as his artist’s eye transforms the structures, “Endangered Bridges Over The L.A. River” is an education in bridges.
Viaduct at 6th Street, 45" x 50"
David Eddington: Bridges Over the LA River
Reviewed by Flavorpill Online Magazine
British ex-pat painter David Eddington may have left the grandeur and historical heft of Europe for a life by the Pacific shore, but his new portraits of LA bridges are fraught with an appreciation for crumbling majesty that London's Tower Bridge can only dream of. Using metallic pigments to combine architectural specificity with atmospheric effects that convey a decaying monumentality, Eddington's large-scale images evoke the unlikely classical features within some of the city's overlooked treasures. The LA Conservancy is bringing more attention to these structures through its support of Eddington's exhibition and the spirit of edifice-adoration that inspires him.
– Shana Nys Dambrot
Eddington’s paintings depict the forms of Los Angeles’s
forgotten concrete monoliths: its downtown bridges and the
LA River. Eddington’s reverent but truthful images
of the River reflect the environmental consciousness of an
artist awake to the city’s excesses. As blue skies
offer a glimpse of hope above the insurmountable constructions,
polychromatic brushstrokes, hinting at graffiti, cut through
the precise lines of the architecture. These paintings bespeak
an influence of contemporary and street art, and reflect
the Angeleño inclination to engage creatively with
their immediate urban environment.
Eddington’s theme relates to Giovanni Batista Piranesi,
an 18th-century Italian printmaker, whose etchings of crumbling
bridges revive the grandeur of ancient Rome. Calling viewers
to appreciate LA’s deteriorating infrastructure, Eddington’s
paintings celebrate its elegant form. Many bridges built
during the city’s apogee, the 1910s and ‘20s,
are currently set for alteration or demolition. Symbolizing
mobility, progress, connection, and monumentality, the city’s
bridges stand for all that is baroque about Los Angeles,
and Eddington’s exhibition hones in on this exactly. “The
grandiose aspirations and sadly displaced persons of LA,
random metaphors for dominance and progress, are here on
my doorstep,” Eddington writes of the bridges in his
abstraction and academic refinement, Eddington’s brushstrokes plaster the canvas with
metal acrylics to render the cement structures alive and
vibrant. In dialogue with the works of Abstract Expressionist
Philip Guston, these paintings boldly reveal their materials
and the process of their creation: metallic acrylic pigment
applied to linen canvas. Eddington paints both the immaterial
and the material—the subject and the ground—and
his canvases breathe life and color into LA’s venerable
architecture. Born in Britain, his work has been exhibited
in galleries and museums across Europe and the United States. “LA
Bridges” marks his second show at the Frank Pictures
The Los Angeles Conservancy has fought valiantly to designate
these bridges as Historic-Cultural Landmarks, but this
does not necessarily prevent their destruction. With David
Eddington’s exhibition, the Frank Pictures Gallery
joins the Conservancy’s plight to preserve LA’s
bridges as integral monuments to the city’s history.
Statement: Mixing Paint
In considering this most recent work, I would like these
paintings to stand up for themselves, but here they are
reproduced without any tactile references,
thus the works need more time to resonate. Painting is as much about the nature
of the materials - canvas, its size and type, pigment and its application -
as the image, the subject and the content, "The two orders",
as Jean Dubuffet said: the material and the immaterial.
Time spent before Giotto, Mantegna, Veronese and Masolino, a particular inspiration.
Each has had its effect: initially passion, later almost rejection. Today strong
if mixed emotions, moods clearly reflected in my work, references to traditional
technique, perhaps in the rendering of fabric or architecture. A humorous dialogue
spanning centuries, tempered and countered with a more direct communication and
the influence of contemporary visual artists such as Philip Guston and Keifer,
as well as writers and my peers.
My work attempts to encourage the observer to move ever so slightly sideways,
to view the world just a little differently. It suggests other responses to political
influences, questioning what one seems to see, the misuse of power and technology
high or low. Questions are trusted more than answers. The recent work depicted
here follows the 'Folds' paintings, the series of propeller-like machines was
shown at Inmo's Gallery, an interpretation of how technology can be used for
good or evil. In this current body of work, the larger painting depicting two
propeller machines - concludes the machine as metaphor series. It also became
a key point for the works that followed. These are images which could initially
be taken for war installations: the conning tower of a 'sub' or perhaps a fuel
storage tank, an aircraft carrier in dry-dock, or was it a vase centered on a
Better to build bridges than walls, or battleships, my attention turned to
the LA river downtown, for most of the year a green ribbon of recycled water.
bridge in particular, the Macy Street Bridge, became my model. The grandiose
aspirations and sadly displaced persons of LA, random metaphors for dominance
and progress, are here on my doorstep. In these bridges, alongside industrial
engineering and steel spans, there are glimpses of Versailles and ancient
Rome - an illusion, enhanced by the destitute. It is easy to imagine oneself
in the middle-distance adventures of a Piranese etching. I love LA moments
like these. Allowing the neo-baroque bridges to play upon my mind, haunted
dark underbelly of their structures, their curves within curves reminding
me of Leibniz's "folds in the soul". My obsessions continue in
this baroque world, which I gravitate to drawing, photographing, just viewing,
painting itself is the subject, the interwoven trellises, striations, a matrix
in uneven translucencies; from within, there is no need for a window since
I am still outside.
of the Artist
Eddington was born in Bedfordshire, England in 1943,
and studied painting in various London
art colleges achieving
a Masters in Fine Art from the University of Trent
Nottingham. From the 1970s to the 1990s Eddington’s work was
shown in galleries and museums in cities across Europe
including Brussels, Madrid, Amsterdam, and London. In 1999,
the artist and his family relocated to New Orleans where
he obtained a position at Loyola University teaching studio
painting. Two years later, Eddington moved to Venice, California
and has since held solo exhibitions in New York, London,
New Orleans, and Los Angeles. His most recent series of
paintings, “LA Bridges,” opening July
13th, marks his second exhibition at the Frank Pictures