Comments on: Alan Davie and Albert Irvin at Gimpel Fils http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-and-albert-irvin-at-gimpel-fils/ Abstract Critical is a not-for profit company aiming to establish a new critical context for all generations of artists involved with ambitious abstract art. Sun, 09 Nov 2014 17:23:33 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Ashley West http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-and-albert-irvin-at-gimpel-fils/#comment-171160 Fri, 31 May 2013 21:01:23 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6961#comment-171160 Well I just popped down to this show and thought I would take in Paul Feiler at Redfern and Bernard Cohen too. I also popped into the Barbara Rae show at Adam’s Gallery, among others. In the morning I was practicing drumming in my studio, surrounded by work. I’ve been exploring free-form jazz with a few others of late and there are obvious connections with improvisation in painting. It reminded me of a visit I made to Alan Davie’s studio in the early seventies. A drum kit was set up there ready for Tony Oxley to accompany Davie on sax and flute. At my relatively young age he represented something of a hero – a shaman of sorts. In front of Trio for Bones today I found that I was probably content to spend much more time ‘sitting with it’ than I was capable of then. I don’t think it was out of adulation, as his later work never struck a chord – and given that so little that I see these days stops me in my tracks, I was pleasantly surprised or reminded by such a painting. There was little need for equivocation about what I was looking at – unlike the Irvins, not that the latter were particularly bad – they were just ‘standard’ (an awful generalisation), and they were alongside the Davie. Trio for Bones simply had so much to respond to – so alive, full of movement, intense colour, gesture, deep spaces, architecture – it isn’t just formal – about painting, but a medium through which a full blooded drama about relationships can take place. It had shocking spontaneity (it looks as fresh as the day it was painted), and yet the control is there, the discernment. Like good free jazz, it isn’t haphazard, or a free-for-all. And it doesn’t look at all American. I suppose you might say, in a corny way, that in such a painting as this, Matisse meets Pollock, in Britain. As with Diebenkorn, there’s no room for niceties or fussiness – only for what is essential. As with free-jazz, you can’t sit on the sidelines and work out what you’re going to do – you have to get in there, get physical and work your way around. What a contrast this was to what I saw later. I was looking forward to the Feiler show – I hadn’t seen many pieces in the flesh. I really wanted to enjoy these images of sun-like disks held within geometric frames, but they seemed to me, to be fussy, all about packaging, with layers of perspex and inhibited strips of colour mounted in more perspex – mechanical, decorative, not pushed far enough (much like Carol Robertson’s work). I didn’t enjoy the Cohens later work either – I couldn’t help wondering why someone would want to spend so much labour creating something so ‘removed’, akin to the Frank Stella up the road at Waddingtons. A few downstairs, that were simpler and looked liked aboriginal paintings were lovely though – much more poetic, human. I’ve seen Barbara Rae’s work before, and I like the direction of the work (of course they are landscapes, but use interesting mark making, colour and surface) but when I tried to find one piece I could live with, I simply couldn’t. On the train home I was reading ‘No Sound is Innocent’ by the British free drummer and founder member of AMM (a group dedicated to purely improvised ‘abstract’ music). I thought this passage, which could equally be applied to abstract painting and my experience of the day, very poignant: (here he is responding to the minimalist composer LaMonte Young’s injunction to “Draw a straight line and follow it”) ‘For the improvisor the ‘straight line’ is integrity – it marks the musician’s determination to remain constant. The moment ground is shifted, to accommodate another practice or another ethos, then individuality is diluted and thereafter identified with an alternative set of values. The measure of this new identification will reflect as much a disappointment with improvisation as success with an alternative form ….persistence is required because improvisation …(is)not an easy task master. Maintaining an ethos of heurism and dialogue is very much counter to the expediency and social atomism of our times.’ Sorry about the length of this comment, but it has been a while! Back to the paradiddles!

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By: Bill Hare http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-and-albert-irvin-at-gimpel-fils/#comment-170880 Fri, 31 May 2013 08:47:38 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6961#comment-170880 While I am not inclined to challenge Robin’s scenario of the Rise and Fall of Alan Davie, I would like to draw attention to another side of the story. This time from the artist’s point of view ( see Notes by the Artist,1958). Davie has always stressed that for him painting has never been an end in itself, but a means to satori, or spiritual enlightenment. A Jungian rather than a Greenbergian, the ritual of paintng is his chosen strategy for tapping into the Collective Unconscious and releasing, from comic into pictorial space, the symbolic manifestation of universal archetypes. While many may agree that the 1950s was his “great decade” before “the drift into graphic icongraphy and cartoon metaphysical imagery” took over his later work in “decline”, the artist may feel very differently. Davie has always seen himself as a shaman rather than a conventional artist-like Bert Irvin for example. A much more intriguing coupling would be those two great British mystic/artists- Alan Davie and William Blake.

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By: Sam http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-and-albert-irvin-at-gimpel-fils/#comment-169646 Wed, 29 May 2013 06:51:40 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6961#comment-169646 Perhaps as artists or viewers there is a choice (or a unchangeable prejudice) as to whether we are drawn to the flat plane of a localised architectural space (Matisse, Patrick’s Delight); or the expanded, decentralised space implemented by Pollock, that tends to create a dispersed vision of infinity, and that can be seen on the site in Bernard Cohen’s paintings and Julie Mehretu’s work.

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By: Sam http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-and-albert-irvin-at-gimpel-fils/#comment-165524 Wed, 22 May 2013 13:59:37 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6961#comment-165524 at least the reproductions seem to imply that

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By: Sam http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-and-albert-irvin-at-gimpel-fils/#comment-165522 Wed, 22 May 2013 13:58:51 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6961#comment-165522 Though he got in before me I was going to post something similar to Emyr about Davie’s relation to Matisse. Patrick’s Delight works with a tension between the concrete limits of a room and a much more expansive space, though one still defined by a plane; and that when he begins to more directly illustrate rooms as a place for his symbols his works lose a lot of their power. (and perhaps, though the truth is more ambiguous, could we say that Matisse moves from ‘reality’ to abstract, and Patrick’s Delight works in the opposite direction?).

I guess I personally find what Emyr identifies as traditional easel painting more satisfying (though I wouldn’t at all extend that to a desire to just see that approach). Obviously it would be more useful to fully unpick what this satisfaction comprises and what it implies. It is interesting that Pollock’s spaces form the basis of Julie Mehretu’s work.

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By: Robin Greenwood http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-and-albert-irvin-at-gimpel-fils/#comment-162211 Sat, 18 May 2013 18:42:57 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6961#comment-162211 I don’t think it was Pollock’s all-over paintings I had in mind as influencing Davie, more the earlier semi-figurative ones, like my example “Guardians…”, though of course the paint spattering is from Pollock too. And I suppose you could say some of those early Pollocks, which are my favourites, are kind of ‘all-over’ in a way, just not (boringly) the same all over. ‘All-over-different’ seems good to me, and even “Trio for Bones” has some of that. As for “Patrick’s Delight” being pivotal, I think it is the zenith before the decline.

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By: patrick jones http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-and-albert-irvin-at-gimpel-fils/#comment-162177 Sat, 18 May 2013 18:17:20 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6961#comment-162177 Robins scalpel hits the mark yet again.I still feel the tremendous pressures really good artists are under if they are to survive.I thoroughly recomend Hyperallergics “Beer with a painter”,where John Walker talks about painting in England.When he left John Hoyland had to carry on alone .Davie is a special case.

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By: Peter Stott http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-and-albert-irvin-at-gimpel-fils/#comment-161636 Fri, 17 May 2013 22:36:30 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6961#comment-161636 Prey to God these visions never come true.

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By: Sam http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-and-albert-irvin-at-gimpel-fils/#comment-161287 Fri, 17 May 2013 11:00:59 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6961#comment-161287 There is a link to the Rothko here… http://en.wahooart.com/Art.nsf/O/8BWU9T/$File/Mark-Rothko-Marcus-Rothkowitz-Personage-Two.JPG

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By: Emyr WIlliams http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-and-albert-irvin-at-gimpel-fils/#comment-161226 Fri, 17 May 2013 08:47:59 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6961#comment-161226 Bubble Figure Number 1 reminds me of Rothko’s “Personage Two“. His work at turn of the decade to the sixties seems to be an about turn from Pollock’s allover-ness and looks back to more traditionally painted paintings with antecedents such as Matisse’s extraordinary and monumental “Bathers by a River“. I know you have an opinion on this: could “Patrick’s Delight” be the pivotal painting in this change of direction? It is enlightening to see this move, one against the tide, so to speak , away from ‘process’ determined outcomes, back to regular easel painting, but with a whole lot of stuff in there to stir things up.

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