Having had countless solo exhibitions all over the world since the 1980’s and as a six time Archibald Prize finalist, there wouldn’t be too many Australians that don’t know the name David Bromley.
Some may also be aware of criticisms about the commerciality of his work, but an inherent passion for his subject matter and lack of interest in what the critics have to say drives this artist to continue to create art that reflects the same iconic work that first drew worldwide attention to him many years ago.
Starting his artistic career as a potter, and entirely self-taught, Bromley has built a solid reputation as one of Australia’s eminent modern artists. Named several times by Art Collector as one of the 50 most collectable Australian artists, Bromley likens his drive to produce art as similar to the way surfers are drawn to the ocean. This might also be the reason this Sheffield born artist, a long time Melbourne resident has now based himself in Byron Bay close to his roots in Noosa where he first developed his passion for both surfing and painting (and now paints surfboards that are sold for over $10,000).
Bromley’s consistent narratives are ones that he claims to have ‘fallen in love with’ which is an endearing explanation for why he finds them so hard to leave behind. These include his ‘Children’s Adventure’ work that has derived from his love of comic books from his own childhood and ‘Boys Own’ annuals – which were moral tales for the young from before the turn of the century. Rather than moving on to other themes, Bromley has continued with the same tales of childhoold innocence and adventure experimenting with mediums including bronze, paper mache, and embroidery.
Another of Bromley’s well known themes are his female nudes. Working predominantly from photos taken by himself, these paintings are usually larger than life and feature beautiful young women, usually bare breasted in portraits that Bromley describes as ‘keyholes to an abstract painting’.
As a portrait artist, David is in high demand and his portraits have included celebrities Kylie Minogue, Megan Gale, Miranda Kerr and Lily Allen – commissioned by Harpers Bazaar for their cover. Although diverse in subject matter, all Bromley’s work has a consistency in its pop art style with bold use of colour and gold and silver leaf that is reminiscent of Andy Warhol, another of his professed inspirations.
An appeal to broader community is another concern of Bromley’s, it’s not about commercialism but making a connection with every day people through art that they can relate to, believing that a lot of the stories told by paintings are for the art literate only. His popularity and the longevity of his career is certainly a reflection of that mass appeal.
Ultimately self-expression and following your own path is the very essence of a true artist and Bromley has certainly remained true to himself by following the passion he has for his subject matter despite the critics.