This print was one of a set of 13 etchings produced by Davie at Edinburgh Printmakers between 2001 and 2003. At the time he was visiting Edinburgh regularly to oversee the production of his tapestry for the University of Edinburgh being woven at Dovecot weavers. He created this set of works with technical assistance from Alfons Bytautas, Senior Etching Technician at Edinburgh Printmakers. Enhancing the graphic quality of his characteristic symbolism, the etchings were printed with the addition of a fine chine-collé of silk paper.
Alan Davie is one of Britain's most acclaimed artists, and described as Scotland's most important artist of the twentieth century. He was a printmaker, painter, poet, jazz musician, jewellery designer and (to some) a shamanic "maker of magic".
Davie combines imagery from different world cultures with celebrations of music and language. His compositions are loaded with signs, symbols and words. He alluded to Jungian psychoanalysis, Pictish symbol stones, and zen philosophy. His compositions borrow from imagery of mythic and poetic ancient cultures.
"Out of an eclectic art that was part Celtic, part tribal Hopi, part Hindu or Jain or Tibetan Buddhist, part African and part pre-Columbian, with a hint of William Blake, there came painting of power and individuality" (1)
His works on paper are responsive and spontaneous. Exploring the boundaries abstraction and representation, his mark making is obsessive and energised. Davie wished to explore "mysterious and spiritual forces normally beyond our comprehension". Of notable important is Herrigel's Zen in the Art of Archery. This cult book explains how after due contemplation, the archer, the arrow and the target become one. This is an attractive thesis for an artist working to harness "the intuition that knows without knowledge" - the iconic image.
Davie is accepted as the first British artist to realise the significance of American Abstract Expressionism. He became a darling of the patron Peggy Guggenheim following a period of creativity in Florence and Venice.
Alan Davie was educated at the Edinburgh College of Art. His work is found in collections including the The Tate, London; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. He was appointed CBE in 1972 and elected a senior Royal Academician in 2012. He passed in April 2014 at the age of 93.