David Wells Roth

Painting for me is a lifelong effort to resolve form and content that reflects how I feel about the world around me.

I was born in Florida and grew up there for 10 years, yards away from the Gulf Coast of Fort Walton Beach. Then we moved north to Massachusetts. My mother studied painting at Hunter College under the abstract expressionist Robert Motherwell. She continued to paint, painting views of the coast near our house. I was 4-5 years old when I became interested in painting, having watched her create her paintings. Growing up at the dawn of the space industry and with my father’s interest in astronomy, physics and science influencing me, I profoundly appreciated and was inspired by the beauty and depth of space. I drew and painted numerous space-oriented scenes as a child. The contrast of light and dark, the infinite vastness of the newly seen views of space drew me in and found its way into my nocturns.

Throughout the years, we often visited my grandparents who were still living in The Bronx and later, Brooklyn. We spent a lot of time in the city visiting science and art museums and exploring the streets and neighborhoods of New York. This opened my mind to painting cities. My interest in painting urban life was further enhanced after college when I moved to New York City for a couple of years. While living for a few months in my car and various storage spaces and attics, I painted in and around New York. While there, through a friend of my father, I met a French family and was invited to stay with them in the south of France for a few months as a barter with one of my paintings. After that, I moved to a suburb of Paris and stayed there for the next 15 years, again bartering for my apartment with my paintings. I traveled throughout France and Italy, continuing my exploration of cities and European life in my work, as well as painting landscapes, and life in the French cafés. What most interested me about cities, are that they are the result of its people and reflect their interaction or isolation. I am intrigued by these aspects and still love exploring and communicating these dynamics through my paintings. Not long after returning to the United States, I was commissioned, now ongoing, to paint the entire judicial portrait history of the United States Federal Court of the District of Puerto Rico, 37 judges to date.

Over the years, I have found that it is not necessarily the subject matter, such as the objects in a still life, a building, a tree, or a boat, that is the focus of my painting. It is more the play of light and its interaction with the subject as expressed through the paint and its application, thereof.

Selected Works