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Remembering Alan Davie: 1920–2014

8 April 2014

The Scottish artist Alan Davie has died aged 93. The painter, who was recently elected as a Senior Royal Academician and is the subject of upcoming displays at Tate Britain, Alan Wheatley Art and Gimpel Fils in London this month, will be remembered for his vibrant canvases and his love of music. René Gimpel, who has known and worked with Davie for many years, remembers the artist:

Alan Davies.

Little Purply, Alan Davies. Image courtesy Gimpel Fils, London

Alan Davie’s career is woven into the history of Gimpel Fils. We started showing him in 1950 and, many exhibitions later, have organised a show of his latest work which is to open later this month. Alan had participated in the selection of work and it is regrettable that he will not be here to enjoy it.

Every visit to Alan was an experience to savour. His home and studio, in the Herefordshire countryside, was full of colour. Mostly his paintings, but also the bright walls, his magnificent collection of tribal objects from around the world, the grand piano and other musical instruments given centre stage, stacks of musical scores, art books and catalogues. The studio was the heart and heartbeat of his creative joy, where Alan worked until very recently.

Decades-worth of oil paint accumulated on easels, splashed in layers on the floor, left marks all over the walls. Alan could work fast on a painting, then stop halfway through and put it away for a year or longer, while he moved to conjure up another image. His tactile manipulation of paint was almost tangible and only when discussion turned to music – classical or jazz – would the artist be distracted into lengthy disquisitions on the importance of music in his life.

Alan Davie.

Red Horse, Alan Davie. Image courtesy Gimpel Fils, London

René Gimpel is the co-director of Gimpel Fils, London. An exhibition of Alan Davie’s recent work opens at the gallery later this month.

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