Born in Toronto in 1966, David Urban studied poetry and painting at York University, earning a BFA in 1989. Urban received a master’s degree in English literature and creative writing from the University of Windsor in 1991 and a second master’s degree in painting from the University of Guelph in 1993.
Since his first exhibition, Urban has emerged as a leader in the development of abstract painting in Canada and has been championed as working with the history of painting in Canada in a respectful and knowledgeable manner. Few artists have been able to marry such a personally-identifiable aesthetic with an extensive and respectful knowledge of the past.
Many of Urban’s signature aesthetics—a colour field ground, gestured brushstrokes and a prominence of line and shape—are evident in the paintings available at the Gallery at Thirteen. Featuring lyrical forms that dance across an atmospheric colour field, Urban’s informed brushstrokes and a keen sense of colour root his poetic paintings in the movements of the human body and psychic impulses. As Roald Nasgaard points out in his landmark book Abstract Painting in Canada, Urban’s paintings reconstruct “the possibility of belief in art as a transformative power, an actual usable force that enables us to understand the world.” (398)
In many ways David Urban is considered one of the most prescient abstract painters working today, effectively distilling the current social malaise of disillusioned life in the 21st century and reclaiming a genuine sense of truth and human connection through art.