“If I paint in a particular way, it is inspired by where I go when safe enough to let go of wishes to please anyone but myself. If I don’t try, when I give myself permission to be wrong, I can be alone in unexplored territory, places of creation and my work can communicate something about it.”
Born in 1964, David was the youngest of the four children of artists Katherine (Kay) McAdam and Lucian Freud. His parents separated when he was two and he did not see his father again for 22 years, growing up on a South London council estate. David excelled at art and won a bursary to the prestigious Woolverstone Hall, where he boarded. His friends on the estate lied about this shy child’s whereabouts, to protect him, claiming he was at borstal. By the age of 18, David wanted to devote his life to art.
He and his siblings disliked the attention their father’s famous surname caused, so they used their mother’s name, McAdam, instead. Despite his devotion to art, David wanted to help his mother financially. This led to a supposedly temporary job in the travel industry, in which he climbed the corporate ladder rapidly. David helped Richard Branson launch Virgin Holidays, before striking out on his own to launch new companies. It would be 20 years before he sold up and returned to art.
He was deeply affected by the death of his parents – saying he went ‘a little crazy’ after his mother passed away at the end of the last century. Though he never bonded with his father, he visited him when he heard he was dying. The deathbed portraits he painted in those visits became his first exhibition, Losing Lucian. A father of four, David is now involved with male mentoring group A Band Of Brothers, which encourages young men to be who they want to be, rather than what they’ve been taught to be.