Alan Davie  , Priest of the Red Temple,  1956, oil on canvas. Courtesy of Alan Wheatley Art

Alan Davie, Priest of the Red Temple, 1956, oil on canvas. Courtesy of Alan Wheatley Art


A major retrospective exhibition of works by Alan Davie (1920-2014), Scotland’s internationally recognised giant of modern twentieth century art, will be held on the second floor at the Saatchi Gallery as part of British Art Fair 2019.

This will be one of three major shows of Alan Davie’s work in 2019, following an exhibition at Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery in London earlier in the year, and ahead of an exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield alongside David Hockney which will open in October. The exhibition at Saatchi Gallery will be curated by Alan Wheatley, director of Alan Wheatley Art, which has proudly represented the Estate of Alan Davie since 2017.

Throughout his life Alan Davie drew and painted obsessively, producing paintings of startling originality, vitality and daring. Combining imagery derived from different world cultures with a love of music and

language, Alan Davie's paintings are a complex yet joyous celebration of creativity that combine the expressive freedom of abstraction with a wealth of signs, symbols and words.

Having seen the Jackson Pollock paintings from Peggy Guggenheim’s collection in Venice in 1948, Davie was inspired to begin painting on a much larger scale, in an improvisatory way, with a vigorous, aggressive handling of paint. To a concentration of colour - already a remarkable feature in Jackson Pollock’s work before 1945 – he added the possibility of recognizing shapes, suggestions of movement and primitive, magical rituals.

Alan Davie explored a diverse range of activities: from 1949 to 1953 he earned his living by making jewellery, and in 1947 he worked as a jazz musician, an activity he continued in later life. He also wrote poetry during the early 1940s.

As early as 1958 Davie emphasised the importance of intuition in his work as expressed in the form of enigmatic signs. During the 1960s, both in paintings and in coloured lithographs, he represented such images with increasing clarity at the expense of gestural handling. Taking on the role of a disinherited shaman, he created a synthesis of mythologies from a variety of cultures for a modern civilisation devoid of its own village myths.

Alan Davie was elected a Senior Royal Academician in 2012.