I was reading the new painting magazine, ‘Turps Banana’ (not sure what the title is all about) the other day and was delighted to see an interview with painter Alan Davie. I’ve always been a huge admirer of his work but not seen much written about him for ages. He always seemed to be in a place with his painting that I used to regard with both great joy and great envy. I still do.
Alan is now in his late eighties, and continues to paint every day. The article mentions how in the sixties he said that his work had absolutely nothing to do with self-expression and that self expression and art were irreconcilable. ‘That’s the antithesis of art, self-expression- one’s got to lose one’s self to produce art really. The expression of one’s self is only of use to one’s self,’ he says. It’s a point of view that I’m really sympathetic with, although I think it also highlights the complexities of painting and one’s motivations in doing so. As a painter I’m very interested in removing myself from the subject. No subject is more or less important than another. I try to look at things totally objectively in order to get to the core of the thing I’m trying to represent. I think it’s important to also create a space for the audience to bring something of themselves to the painting and in a sense ‘complete’ it, without my asserting a greater authority. And yet I am trying to present a certain aesthetic through the work but this is more to do with an interest in the personality of the artist being present than a form of ‘self-expression’. As I said, it’s complicated….
I’ve gotten into a slightly more philosophical ramble here, when all I wanted to say was how much I love Alan Davies’ work!