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Meet David Van Gough of David Van Gough Art in Julian

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Van Gough.

David, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’d been raised in an Irish Catholic environment in Liverpool during the 1970’s, which back then was very dirge-like. By that, I mean bleak and quite forgotten. The Beatles had long since buggered off, the streets where like bombsites and the shipyards were in a state of decline. The only way out was either through soccer, prison, death or psychological retreat into some sort of fantasy world.

Since I was completely feckless at kicking a ball, and most of my family were either in and out of the clink or six feet under, I opted for the latter.

So, it was one day in Art class, my teacher Miss Hughes, who – spotting some potential in my weird scrawls, presented me with a copy of Hieronymous Bosch’s triptych: the garden of earthly delights that set me on my way. It was a real epiphany that made me want to explore all the existential questions through this internal world and make some kind of sense of it all.

So, I guess my journey as an artist began with this overarching spiritual quest and being raised as I was, I’d found that the pulpit wasn’t doing it for me. So, there was this realization early on, that, there had to be another way of instilling existence with some search for meaning, that had nothing to do with grazing one’s knees before a bleeding effigy each Sunday.

I suppose It could be argued, I chose instead to graze my knees before my easel, and bleed paint for my own effigies. Though not just on Sundays.

Has it been a smooth road?
Anything that you pursue on faith has its pitfalls and I’m someone where my road to Damascus was never that clear-cut.

I mean, by virtue of the kind of Art I do, which is quite darkly esoteric, surreal and multi-layered, the work isn’t made to go with the curtains. In that instance, people generally prefer the artistic static of minimalism and paint dribbles, over something which confronts them with the bigger questions, like mortality or whatever, and quite honestly, the arbiters of taste just perpetuate that distance from emotional and intellectual depth.

And so the struggle is constant, not just on the level of hustling for a living, but also for some degree of recognition and qualification for why you do what you do. At times, it can feel like being in some sort of exclusion zone, particularly here in San Diego.

You have to find your niche and your blessing’s where you can, and I’ve certainly been fortunate with the curators, galleries, and collectors who have supported and stuck with me through the years because there is a percentage, hungry to scratch beneath the surface.

Also, I have an inkling that the perception of what I do is changing and it could be these dark times that we live in, but ‘Dark art’ as it’s been coined, is finding some form of legitimacy through really excellent advocates like fellow artist Chet Zar and Mike Correll, and LA galleries like Hyaena, Copro, and the Dark Art Emporium.

So although it’s a road that still obscured and on a steep, it’s one I believe will become more defined and level as we continue.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with David Van Gough Art – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I’m a dauber, but people like to categorize, so I loftily call myself a Necrosurreal artist, which is a kind of play on Necrorealism and Surrealism.

Necrorealism was a Russian movement began by artist Evgeny Yufit in the 80’s, to catalog the decline of the Soviet Union as being akin to death and decay, only using the absurd and black humor through artistic expression, as a crux.

Now, it may seem morbid to pursue the questions of mortality and the afterlife in art. but it’s a fear and a hang-up, that I believe besieges mostly Western, orthodox culture. For instance, I had a studio for a time in the Chicano quarter of Barrio Logan, at a tremendous gallery called La Bodega, and my work was embraced as never before. Why? Because the Hispanic culture has not only defeated its fear of death but made a parody- a clown of it, through Dia de Los Muertos. It reveres it and celebrates its absurdity.

That said, on occasion, I’ve had a few visitors view my art, and become completely overwhelmed to the point of tears because it has relayed something deep, something formerly unspoken that has been like a wellspring of catharsis.

Those have certainly been some of my proudest moments.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love its diversity, its resolute ambition to be taken culturally serious, without ever compromising the kinship and camaraderie it creates within the artistic community. It has some wonderful galleries, and a burgeoning art scene, as comparably valid and interesting as it’s larger metropolitan counterparts, if only someone would shine a light on it.

Except for whatever reason, it will always be at odds with the editorial agenda of some of the usual suspects.

You see it, with what’s happening in Barrio Logan. It’s like the vampires are out, speculating gentrification, instead of promoting the artists and featuring the shows there.

So, it’s reductive and almost impossible for anything to blossom when it’s constantly being nipped in the bud.

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David Van Gough

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