Good Weekend Art Column

David Griggs – Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

Published February 9, 2019
David Griggs, 'The Bleeding Hearts Club #2'

Artist: David Griggs

Lives: Woolloomoloo, Sydney; Manilla, Philippines


Represented by:Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, 9 Soudan Lane, Paddington, Sydney (Station Gallery, 9 Ellis St. South Yarra, Melbourne)

His thing. Brash, grotesque paintings in brilliant colour, with imagery drawn from religion and popular culture.

Our take.David Griggs was born in Sydney but has spent many years living in Manilla, a place he finds scary and beautiful. Today he has a studio in both cities. A touring survey, David Griggs: Between Nature and Sin, may currently be seen at the Lismore Regional Gallery. In November an exhibition of recent work was held at Sydney’s Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.

Griggs admits that he tends to dwell on the “dark side” of human experience, inspired by the savage, gothic imagery of painting in the Philippines, and by his own bouts of depression. As well as being a prolific painter, Griggs works with photography and installation. In the Lismore show he is also screening his first feature-length film, Cowboy Country.

In describing his work Griggs talks about: “colour, paint, energy and love. Dark necessities inverted to create good vibes only.” With works such as The Bleeding Hearts Club #2, a naturalistic image is overlaid with crude emblems and symbols. Colours and motifs seem to clash dramatically on his canvases. With paintings such as Zombie Kiss(2009) it looks as if someone has come along and defaced the picture before show opened, but the artist is his own best vandal.

Can I afford it?

Griggs’s work is not for everyone. Extreme, anarchistic and confronting, it’s a far cry from what most private collectors like to hang on their walls. Nevertheless, Griggs has his admirers, and has been well supported by the art institutions. He has been a finalist in the Archiald Prize on seven occasions.

The largest and most expensive work in his show at Roslyn Oxley’s, Old white trash painter, (168cm by 460cm) was priced at $38,000. The cheapest work was the small oil painting, Potato Gurl(47cm by 37cm), at a mere $2,200. If you have the nerve for this work these prices should be no deterrent.

Where can I have a squiz?

David Griggs: Between Nature and Sin, Lismore Regional Gallery, 8 December, 2018 – 24 February, 2019 (or

Published in The Good Weekend, the Sydney Morning Herald, 9 February 2019