Critic Lilly Wei has described Bates' works as " ... meditative and restless, naïve and sophisticated, suave and awkward, bad and beautiful, pictorial and sculptural, abstract and representational. Color, line, shape, foreground and background merge on the surface to create a vigorous tapestry."
Bates believes the intricacy of his painting "makes it more interesting and richer for both of us" (painter and the viewer). "It's that rawness that I need to have. I need to balance the very beautiful, the formal, and the contemplative with that quirky, southern thing."
David Bates was born in Dallas where he presently lives and works and attended Southern Methodist University where he received both his B.F.A. and M.F.A. His paintings, works on paper, and sculptures are represented in numerous private and museum collections, including The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Carnegie Museum, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, The Dallas Museum of Fine Arts and both the Smithsonian's American Art Museum and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.