At first glance no one would be able to tell that this unassumingly tall Australian is an internationally renowned artist.
In person, David Bromley, with his casual dress sense and humble mannerisms, exudes a charming persona, which is deeply reflected in his work. He mentions that his art, all through the years, has been inspired by love and happiness.
The 57-year-old British-born Bromley, who has made Australia his home, is most comfortable talking about his art career, especially to a small group of Malaysian media, which visited him at his studio located on Chapel Street in Melbourne recently.
Bromley is set to debut his first Malaysian solo at KL Lifestyle Art Space (KLAS) in Selangor. The World Of David Bromley exhibition, featuring 60 varied works, will be his major introduction to the art-loving public here.
In his quaint studio, he tells us that his life in the art scene began at a market place in Australia.
“I was at a market (in Adelaide) and I saw a woman with a lot of pottery and I thought to myself, that is what I want to do,” remembers Bromley.
“I asked her if I could learn how to do pottery, and she said there was a course in a town 45 minutes away. I think I rang them up and asked if I could join and they said sure,” he adds.
Back then, Bromley worked “day and night” on his pottery craft, adding on quirky experimentations.
“I got good at it and after a while I had asked for a job where I was learning and they gave me a job. I stayed on, selling the pottery I made and that is how it all began. I never actually thought I was going to be an artist,” he admits.
Bromley, a father to five children, says that being able make art for a living is like a fairytale to him.
He also points out that his decision to switch from being a potter to a painter was a simple one. Bromley remembers that he walked into an art supply store one day and decided he wanted to try painting.
“I started painting slowly since I was still doing pots. People saw my works and they liked it. From there, I was offered an exhibition,” says Bromley, who can pride himself with work that is enduringly figurative, daringly coloured and executed.
“I needed something to keep me busy and art, it has an undefinable outcome. So I was doing something all the time.”
Bromley, who is now married to fashion designer Yuge Yu, has collaborated with various projects around the world, including developers and restaurants. They also run Bromley And Co, which handles Bromley’s artistic affairs.
The World Of David Bromley, in a nutshell, is a special showcase of Bromley’s commissioned portraiture work and more.
KLAS owner Datuk Gary Thanasan says that the entire exhibition took a total of seven months to put together since he met Bromley in December.
“When we were planning the exhibition, I had asked him if he would be okay to do some local flavours and to my delight, he said yes. So these (portraiture) works will be displayed with his other major works which are popular worldwide,” says Thanasan.
Thansan explains that the portraiture of the local women done by Bromley were of women who were cover girls of KL Lifestyle magazine.
Be it portraiture, murals, colourful works on canvas, sculptures or pottery, Bromley has the years of experience behind him.
He started painting actively since he was 28, chanelling and enjoying the art world’s energy in the 1980s.
Yorkshire-born Bromley, who moved to Australia with his family over 53 years ago, is known for his different series of paintings, namely the children’s series, nature series and portraiture.
Asked on how he decided on his themes, Bromley says that human stories have room for exploration.
“A senior artist told me about the human condition and I thought it would be the perfect thing to explore. I went away to be with my dad for a while and there I found these old children’s books. Their faces showed a sense of optimistic naivety, a lot like my father. I saw these images of children looking over the waves, looking into the future and I felt like I needed that,” he explains.
“Times are difficult, yes, but we can make it better, and I want to do that with my paintings.”
Despite the optimism in his art, Bromley says that his choice of drawing children got him a lot of criticism.
“People were saying I’m not a serious artist. However, the mischievous side of me got me going against the grain. Interestingly, it made me commercially famous. Then, I was told that my work is lightweight since people liked it. But I think that’s not true.”
On the subject of his portraiture series, he says it started when he realised he looked at women in magazines with a sense of judgement.
“I realised I had a certain judgement when I looked at them, so I decided to work on my own and asked friends if I could photograph them.
“I just wanted to try portraiture and just started doing it. I then realised it was so challenging,” he admits.
“For me, when it comes to portraits, it’s always their eyes. It draws you into the painting.”
Bromley also points out that he does not appreciate those who feel art is exclusive to a certain class of people or community.
“Art is music to the eyes. Anyone who can enjoy and appreciate it should have rights to it.
“I mean I have even seen some people say, ‘Oh you can’t take a photo of my painting, you can’t put the pictures in the catalogues’ and I’m like, ‘But you painted to hide it away or what?’ I’m a simple man, I see things simply,” he concludes.
The World Of David Bromley is on at KL Lifestyle Art Space in Petaling Jaya, Selangor from Aug 8 to 30. Visit: kl-lifestyle.com.my. Call 019-333 7668.