Drawings: from the Fifties to Now
“When a black mark is placed on a white paper, both paper and pigment immediately become transformed. A relationship is set up between them- a marriage: the white becomes a mysterious space in which the line moves. A black mass becomes a mythic substance, evocative of infinity and sonorous depth.” Alan Davie, 1994
Alan Davie is rarely without a pen or a brush in his hand. This exhibition of drawings provides a glimpse into his large archive of works on paper, demonstrating the importance of drawing to his artistic practice. From early Jungian inspired bodies to recent maps and spirals, this display is a testament to the diversity of Davie’s visual forms and his unbounded creativity.
Drawing has been a consistent presence in Alan Davie’s oeuvre; whether preparatory sketches for paintings or self-contained works, what is evident is Davie’s persistent drive to create. The desire to penetrate and excavate inner emotion and sensations in order to uncover a hidden truth has been his life’s vocation. Davie’s drawings take many forms; he has formulated his own vocabulary of shapes, including diamonds, arrows, and ladders, based upon the Jungian theory of the existence of symbolic archetypes repressed within human psyche. During the 1950s he also developed a method of spontaneous mark marking and of free association. Davie continues to create automatic images seemingly unhampered by conscious thought. Throughout his career, Davie has maintained an unwavering faith in the necessity of art, and although now in his 90s, he remains dedicated to the principle that it can enable transcendental revelation.
To celebrate his 90th birthday in 2010, exhibitions of Alan Davie’s work took place at Gimpel Fils; The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds; Leeds City Art Gallery; Callendar House, Falkirk; Kings Place Gallery, London; and Northumbria University Gallery, Newcastle. Alan Davie’s last major retrospective exhibition was staged at Tate St. Ives in 2003-04. Other exhibitions of his artwork have been held at The Barbican Art Gallery, London (1993); The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (1997); and COBRA Museum, Amstelveen (2001).
Over the course of his career Davie has been the recipient of numerous awards and retrospectives. In 1963 he was awarded the prize for Best Foreign Painter at the 7th São Paulo Bienal, where the British Council exhibited a solo display of 17 paintings. He was awarded a CBE in 1972 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. His paintings, drawing and prints can be found in numerous international public collections including Tate Collection, London; The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; National Gallery, Oslo; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; National Museum of Canada, Ottawa; Museum of Modern Art, New York.