IMG 0409

David Abse was born in London in December 1958. Despite being born in England, David never has felt that this defines his identity. His father (Dannie Abse) brainwashed him to support Cardiff City FC, and told his son that he was half Welsh, and half Jewish, and half English. David realised early on his father's mathematical shortcomings and was glad that his father had chosen a career as a poet rather than as a quantum physicist. David's mother (Joan Abse) was from Lancashire (St Helens) and her parents were English and Scottish. She moved to London as a young woman where she met David's dad, Dannie. After bringing up three kids, she became a renowned art historian.  David's maternal grandfather (Jack Mercer) had a profound effect on David's life: He worked as a shop steward for years in the Pilkingtons' glassworks in St Helens, but after he retired he went to art school every day for 30 years. He died  30 years ago, aged 99, still a communist, determined not to get a telegram from the queen.  

Despite David's father's determination that David should get a "proper job", David went to Art school in Wolverhampton, and worked for many years in the voluntary sector in the UK - including several years as a union representative, and more years as CEO of Islington Voluntary Action Council.

Ten years ago David moved to France, and returned to painting, drawing and printmaking full time. Plus a bit of writing. David used to write for L’Artiste magazine before it went bust (not his fault!) and for the Hearault Times and writes an occasional blog .

David now lives with his family and cats and dog in the south of France. He thinks of himself as half English, half Welsh, half Jewish, half a Londoner and half French. It is no surprise then that many of David's paintings focus on issues of identity. 

David unfortunately puts up with various disabilities, including suffering from Parsonage Turner syndrome, an obscure incurable and painful auto-immune disease. As a result his style has changed in recent times, and he has more recently been concentrating on producing smaller oil paintings rather than the large expressive abstracts he produced for many years.

David always paints at least two paintings at a time, and paints in bursts, as a result of the permanent pain he lives with. He prefers to paint with water-mixable oil paints but occasionally dabbles with traditional oils, with acrylics, with pen and ink, pencil and charcoal and even the odd watercolour. He doesn’t like to feel limited by media, style or subject.


  • 1983:  Tarmac Prize – Wolverhampton UK
  • 1984:  Ferens Art Gallery – Open  - Hull UK
  • 1984:  Bradford Print Biennale - UK
  • 1985: Kanagawa Print – Japan
  • 1985: Leigh Gallery, Kings Cross, London (solo show)
  • 1986: Open Print Exhibition, Krakow, Poland
  • 2010: September: "New Paintings", Matelles-Art Gallery, France
  • 2011: March: "Liquid Oxygen", Group Show, Icosahedron Gallery, New York, USA
  • 2011: April: "Le Printemps en Folie", Le Soleil Bleu Galerie, Lodève, France
  • 2011: May: "Animals", Art Nomade, Gignac, France
  • 2011: May 21: Pic Saint Loup “Festa Trail”, St Mathieu, France
  • 2011: June: "Boom", The Brick Lane Gallery, London, UK
  • 2011: June/July: "Animaux", Matelles-Art Gallery, France
  • 2011: October: Parallax Art Fair, London, UK
  • 2012: June: "Fleurs", Matelles-Art Gallery, France
  • 2012: July/August: "Celebration of Sport", Outside the White Cube, London, UK 
  • 2012: September: The Electric Cinema, Congleton, Cheshire, UK
  • 2013: July/August: Vignes/Raisins/Vins, domaine St Michel Archange, Bize Minervois, France
  • 2013: July/August: Concours Acrylique Boesner, Boesner, Bordeaux, France
  • 2014: BizeArt, Bize-Minervois, France
  • 2018: August: “Anyone can be Frida”, The Espacio Gallery, London UK
  • 2019: March: Rome: ArtRooms


Francis Kyle Gallery, London (1984-1990)


June/July 2011 and August 2013 edition of L’Artiste magazine.
June 2011: Artist of the month at LondonArt
July 2018L: Cover of 
Unity magazine.


David's work has appeared in numerous magazines, on posters and book covers. He has illustrated a number of books and articles.  Publishers include Robson Books, Poetry Wales, the Jewish Chronicle, the Hérault Times, Hutchinson, the Thin Blue Line, Rapport, Lauderdale House, the Felix Gluck Press and others. Most recently (October 2017) david provided the illustrations for Alaskan Lonely Hearts Club: And Other Unlikely Travel Tales

Also, David is the creator of Purple Cat .


As well as writing his blog, David has written for a number of magazines in the UK and France. He is currently trying to write a couple of books - never anything one at a time.

© David Abse 2018