Alan Davie HRSA: Scottish Prints

Finlay Room, RSA Lower Galleries

Free entry


The selection of works on show contains 13 recent etchings resulting from Alan's relationship with Edinburgh Printmakers. These monochromatic images are printed on Japanese paper and carefully applied to more robust sheets using the Chine Colle technique. This folio is accompanied by more colourful screenprints from Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen and Pier Art Centre, Orkney.


Alan Davie, born in 1920, is recognised as a major figure in 20th century art. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art from 1937 to 1940 and, after military service, earned a living by teaching and making jewellery. He was also a professional jazz musician and music continues to be important to him today. From 1947-9 he travelled throughout Europe on a travelling scholarship, meeting Peggy Guggenheim in Venice. His early work shows an affinity with the American Abstract Expressionists but he began to develop a deeply personal language based on his interests in primitive art and culture, mysticism and religion as well as his activities in music, gliding and diving.


Alan Davie held his first one-man show with Gimpel Fils in London in 1950. Since then he has had more than 100 one-man exhibitions in major galleries in Europe and North America. He has held many important exhibitions of his work world-wide and is represented in major museum collections such as the Tate Gallery, London, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.


Featured works

'New Etchings' (edition of 12)
Edinburgh Printmakers
This new series of etchings was commissioned and published by Edinburgh Printmakers in signed limited editions of 12 prints. A solo 13th print 'Insignias For Magic' is also available in an edition of 75.Produced in collaboration with master printer Alfons Bytautas RSA, these single plate copper etchings utilise the techniques of chine colle on Japanese paper or background colours carefully applied with a roller.


'Magic Wheels' From The Haymarket Suite (edition of 20)
Peacock Printmakers
This large-scale work was commissioned by The National Galleries of Scotland and Art in Partnership (and was a co-publication with Peacock Printmakers). Alan Davie, John Bellany, Adrian Wiszniewski and Bruce McLean all took part in this public art project to make large scale 'advert/posters' advertising the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art at Haymarket Station, Edinburgh. The resulting screenprints (printed by Arthur Watson RSA) were editioned and a selection were numbered and signed for sale. The remainder were presented in large frames on the station platform.


'Island Phantasy' (edition of 50)
Pier Art Centre
This screenprint was commissioned by the Pier Art Centre in Stromness, Orkney and coincided with the opening of Solisquoy Printmakers in Kirkwall. Alan's works features in the Pier's collection and their connection with him led to the commissioning of this beautiful work.


'Magic Reader'
(Frontispiece printed at Peacock Printmakers) Edition of 50
These are the first prints Davie had made since the early 1970s. The artist made hundreds of brush drawings and from these selected 18 to be used as prototypes for the portfolio. The drawings served only as a guide for the work drawn by Davie onto transfer papers, these were in turn transposed onto zinc lithographic plates. The imagery in the portfolio was inspired by ancient symbols such as spirals, ankhs and crosses and drawn from many cultural sources - Aboriginal, Carib and American Indian amongst others, with phrases in Spanish and French placed alongside the images. Together the words and images work in a suggestive way, inviting connections to be made without giving specific meanings and seeming like a book of spells or incantations.

Magic Reader was published in 1988 by Charles Booth-Clibborn under his imprint The Paragon Press and printed by Ian Lawson, Arthur Watson and Simon King in an edition of 50.