In David Griggs’ graffiti-trash canvases, tattooed skeletons and religious rituals collide with gun-toting cartoon characters and the Ku Klux Klan. Griggs’ journey into this street carnival of politics and spirituality began at the age of eighteen, while photographing scenes of Indian and Nepalese poverty for an underground newspaper. Later, he spent time with refugees on the Thai-Burmese border. But it was the cacophonous confluence of cultures experienced during a 2005 residency in Manila that really revolutionised his practice. Griggs’ recent paintings are a personal response to what he saw in the Philippines: death, violence, poverty, religion and sex, all writ on the huge scale of Manila’s candy-coloured advertising banners. In a ‘reverse collage’ process riffing on the city’s visual complexity, Griggs commissioned banner painters to translate selected travel photographs into paintings, which Griggs then tagged with tattoo imagery, skulls, text and other symbolic elements.
David Griggs lives and works in Manila, where he continues to gain inspiration for his practice, and is rapidly gaining attention for his energetic and seductive canvases. In 2007, he won the Primavera Artist Prize having been selected for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney’s: Primavera exhibition showcasing the best of Australia’s artists under 35 years of age. In 2008 Griggs was included in Art and Australia’s major publication, Current: Contemporary Art from Australia and New Zealand. Griggs’ work is held in major public collections throughout Australia, including Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art Brisbane, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and the University of Queensland.