David Paul Kay: Black and white is like my 1s and 0s, I can write any code

Curious and intellectual, David Paul Kay is a New York based artist most widely recognized for his playful black and white mazed iconography. “People always think that because it’s black and white I limit myself. But it is exactly because of that, I’m unlimited. That’s like my 1s and 0s and I can write any code.”

Steven Gabriel Bosque 3
Photo Credit: Steven Gabriel Bosque

Andy by DPK

David was always good at math and physics. When he creates abstract work, it’s all mathematics. Of course, he doesn’t see numbers, but it’s the rules and the equations that define the length of a line and decide on the shapes and directions. His brain is always looking for intellectual stimuli, puzzles, riddles. David is driven by constant desire to understand things, to make sense of new experiences. There is no time for boredom. Reality is intense, and so are David’s drawings. A musician as well, he often compares his way of creating art to composing music: “You hear the melody in your head and you just continue writing it down. You are not pausing.” One time he worked 14 hours straight; not to purposely exhaust himself or meet a deadline, but just because he was in the zone. “That has nothing to do with how long I do it, but how I do it. I enjoy it. And if I put myself in the zone, I can go to the end of the world and beyond. I become this device that creates abstract work. And whatever it is, wherever it takes me, let it take me. And when I approach it that way, things happen.”

Mural at Ideal Glass Gallery, East Village
Mural at Ideal Glass Gallery, East Village
Sabina large

What really makes the work powerful is that in addition to all the energy, forcefulness and intensity, it has a beautiful soft rhythm and intricacy that leaves a lot of room for the imagination. One doesn’t need to understand it to love it, just feel the energy and flow with it. The creations are as contradictory as the creator – David is an impatient, passionate, fiery philosopher with a charming smile, who likes classical music and jazz. I always enjoy listening to him ruminate on metaphysical subjects. The most inspiring moment was when he shared with me his understanding of that challenging question: what is the point of creating art? “I know why I am lifting weights, why I’m doing CrossFit, why I’m running… because of the results I get. Purpose of making art?… I realized that purpose is not what matters in this case. What matters is the fact that I cannot not do it. I have to. It has to get out. And since it is such a big part of my life and so important to me, why don’t I focus on it? Why don’t I do what I want to do? Why don’t I make it what I want it to be?”

David_Credit_Lueur Photography
Photo Credit: Lueur Photography

Such confidence came after a long search – personal and artistic. David always wanted to paint and he tried different styles and media. Then, about 7 years ago, he moved to New York City and during his subway commutes started drawing in a notepad. His first drawing, which he still has, he views as symbolic – it was a simple egg shape, which foretold him of his imminent rebirth as an artist. It was here, in New York, that David finally found his artistic voice, confidence, and his visual language. Little by little, he was getting comfortable with black and white. “Small subway drawings turned into paintings, paintings turned into murals, murals turned into car… and shoe… and it evolved.”

In December 2015 David was commissioned by Cadillac to paint a brand new Cadillac ATS-V at the Pulse Miami Beach art fair. By then, the artist already acquired a lot of attention for his large scale mural work, such as “HK52” piece done on a rooftop in Midtown Manhattan, and the 5000 sq. ft. indoor mural at a well-known bar in the heart of Chelsea, G Lounge. He had painted on jackets, sneakers, high-heel shoes, and human bodies. His latest collaboration was with Equinox Orchard Street and the 100 Gates Project. Coming up, there is an exterior mural with 100 Gates Project at MOTT NYC, plus a concept store / gallery on Lower East Side sponsored by Equinox, and another project being planned with the brand this spring.

HK52 Rooftop Mural
HK52 Rooftop Mural
MuralEquinoxOrchard_PhotCredit_Stone Zhu
Mural Equinox Orchard Photo Credit: Stone Zhu

To learn more and connect with the artist:


Author: YABNYC

Passionate about people with passions, I write about artists, their lives and artistic journeys; sometimes, I post my musings on exhibitions that speak to me. I don't believe in critiquing, but I believe in connecting. Knowing someone better hopefully leads to understanding, which also gives rise to a connection (intellectual, emotional or spiritual). People, who establish such a link with an artist, are more likely to want to live with their art. And, not only, often buying an artwork is a gesture of support for the artists we like and encouragement to keep creating. To quote Swiss curator, artist and art historian Harald Szeemann, "If the personal relationship is taken out, the dimension of intimacy, then the museum and art business gradually starts to become annoying."

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