Dave Pearson, who died in 2008, at the age of 70, is widely held as one of the greatest artist of his generation: his obituaries in the Guardian and on BBC Radio 4 celebrated him as a 'great British painter' and 'the greatest painter we never knew', and art critic Edward Lucie Smith hailed him as 'a really major artist'.
Dave Pearson was born in Clapton, London in 1937. ...He went on to study painting at both Saint Martin’s School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools.
In 1959 Dave Pearson exhibited as part of the Young Contemporaries exhibition in London, and followed this with an exhibition Astronauts at the New Arts Centre. After teaching at Harris College, Preston, in 1964 he began his long association with what was then the Manchester College of Art and Design, where he remained until retiring in 2002. He was a central figure in the evolution of the foundation course in art and design for almost four decades, including a spell as course leader.
As an artist he was phenomenally productive, anarchic and passionate, and he encouraged and nurtured these qualities in his students throughout his long teaching career. During his life he produced well over 15,000 pieces of work. It was said that he resented having to leave the studio even to buy food, and for months on end survived on little more than lemonade and cream biscuits.
Throughout his life and career he subsequently became obsessed with different themes and subjects - details of which can be found here. For almost 10 years from the 1960's he had a deep fascination for Vincent Van Gogh. It took many forms – paintings, drawings, collages, ‘happenings’, assemblages, enormous tableaux, reconstructions of Vincent’s paintings and even an inflatable ‘Yellow House’.
In 1972 Pearson began work on a series of 283 paintings and drawings based on the Book of Revelations, the last book of the New Testament. From 1973 Dave worked on an English Calendar Customs series. Towards the end of the 1970's and continuing into the 1980's he focused on autobiographical themes. By the late 1980s Dave had embarked on the two vast – in scale and ambition – series that occupied him for the next decade – ‘Sailing to Byzantium‘ and ‘Byzantium‘, base on W.B .Yeats poem of that name. At the end of the 1990s Dave finally began to extensively research interpretations of medieval bestiaries.
He exhibited widely throughout his lifetime in solo and group shows at the likes of the Bluecoat gallery, Liverpool, the Serpentine and Hayward galleries in London and the Ikon gallery, Birmingham.