La Peste

David Austen


About the edition

This screenprint was created in DCA Print Studio as part of our DCA Editions programme to coincide with David Austen's exhibition Underworld in DCA galleries.

My work explores love and yearning, loss and grief, memory and dream and the unreliability of these things. I make my work with exactitude and attention; it’s what the world deserves. David Austen

With sources as varied as 19th century literature, poetry, ancient myth and film noir, the impetus of Austen’s work often derives from his immediate surroundings. There is a liveliness and generosity in his approach to art-making, a delicacy of touch, a delight in the unexpected, and a disarmingly nuanced understanding of complex human emotions.

In La Peste, Austen creates a point of entry into the realm of Albert Camus’ philosophical novel The Plague about a society under siege of an epidemic echoing the underlying threat of fascism. Taking words derived from a final paragraph:…it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen-chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it roused up its rats again and sent them forth to die in a happy city. 

Albert Camus, The Plague, 194

Using these lines, Austen repositions the text into what might be a new beginning of the novel; 'IT BEGAN IN A HAPPY CITY,’ creating a cyclical narrative of events. Floating on the paper’s surface with punctuation and context removed, but rendered larger-than-life with the textured edge of each letter, and graphic contrast of black and white highly visible - these politically charged words resonate on many levels, the proximity of darkness and light hinting at something lying just below the surface, ready to re-surge.

Year 2019
Edition of 20
Media Screenprint on Somerset Satin 300gsm paper
Dimensions 76 x 112cm
Signature Signed and numbered by artist on lower recto

About David Austen

David Austen (b.1960 Harlow) is an artist based in London. A graduate of the Royal College of Art (1985), he has exhibited widely over the past 30 years.

Solo exhibitions include: The Drowned, Matt’s Gallery, London (2018); The stars above the ocean... the ocean beneath the stars, David Totah Gallery, New York (2018); Black Heart, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Cogliandrino, Basilicata; End of Love, Modern Art Oxford (2010); and My love, I have been digging up my own bones in the garden again, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh (2009). His work has been featured in major international group projects and is held in collections such as Tate, British Council, Arts Council England and the Government Art Collection.

He is represented by Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh.

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