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Works of the Nineties: Alan Davie

Works of the Nineties



Exhibition catalogue


Detailed Description

As one of the post-war artists Alan Davie inherited surrealism and the search to create an immediate vivid work of art that was free from the constraint of self-consciousness and conclusive imagery. To Davie, painting and drawing is like blinking and breathing, they are constant rituals in his life that happen without recognition.

His paintings are developed from many automatic drawings and gouaches that happen intuitively. Davie works in a seasonal rhythmic way spending six months making informal sketches on paper and the following six months producing paintings in oils. In a migratory fashion one period is spent in England the other abroad.

Davie invents and adopts symbols and art objects from diverse cultures, such as Egyptian, pre-Columbian, American Indian, African, Polynesian and Australian Aboriginal. The inclusion of primitive imagery, designs of alchemy, and religious tradition gives the works spiritual intensity. Abstract-decorative characteristics of Celtic Art also emerge, as do unconscious private totems and personal mythologies. For Davie, The Book of Kells provides another constant source of inspiration, as does the philosophy of Zen and an interest in child art.

Alan Davie, a distinguished British painter, entered Edinburgh College of Art in 1937. After completing his studies, Davie served five years in the Royal Artillery during which he developed a passion for poetry, tenor sax, and composing music. In 1947 Davie travelled Europe and was particularly inspired by the artist Paul Klee. Feeling excited by what he had witnessed Davie returned to Britain, and to Art. Settling in London he made a living from making jewellery and part-time teaching at Central St Martins, whilst developing his enthusiasm for painting. In his forties, Davie became an internationally famous painter exhibiting all over Europe and the Americas. He now lives in the Hertfordshire countryside.

Published 1999; 16pp; paperback