Comments on: Alan Davie: Space and Spontaneity http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-space-and-spontaneity/ 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: Robin Greenwood http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-space-and-spontaneity/#comment-638947 Tue, 24 Jun 2014 18:10:25 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=8160#comment-638947 That’s bizarre! I make things all the time that don’t hang together. Then I chop them up and try again. This is back to our old argument about wholeness… you say everything has wholeness, I say very few things.

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By: Robert Linsley http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-space-and-spontaneity/#comment-638796 Tue, 24 Jun 2014 15:56:03 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=8160#comment-638796 My first thought would be that the need to have things “hang together” would be your downfall. Time hangs everything together eventually. Try to make a work that doesn’t hang together. Just try. Can’t be done. Agreed that what matters is the particular way of hanging together in each case.

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By: Robin Greenwood http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-space-and-spontaneity/#comment-638602 Tue, 24 Jun 2014 13:06:59 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=8160#comment-638602 Sorry Robert, Ive only just seen this comment. I kind of agree with what you say, and I thought the article tried to deal in some way with the contradictions I feel about abstract painting at the moment. But I have never championed a pre-set goal for individual abstract artworks, even though a broader “vision” of some kind is probably needed.

What you say about “Philosopher’s Stone” is true, it is “naff”, but it still hangs together better than any Stella. Maybe you’re ahead of me and maybe one day I’ll come round to Frank too. But maybe it’ll be a cold day in hell before I do.

And yes, my position is certainly in question… isn’t yours?

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By: Robert Linsley http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-space-and-spontaneity/#comment-610807 Sat, 07 Jun 2014 12:45:38 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=8160#comment-610807 When I was younger I also admired Alan Davie, and like everyone prefer the earlier work, but it’s all symbolic/mythic, and never really abstract in any of the stronger ways. I like your suggestion that abstraction is improvisation, but your discussion of space in Davie’s work is disappointing—or better say that after reading your descriptions of space in historical works it’s surprising that you can find enthusiasm for this stuff. I couldn’t believe what you said about the piece called Philosopher’s Stone. An horizon line? With a slab stuck across it to make space? That’s the slackest, most feeble and energyless kind of space that any artist, or art student, can make—and  it happens all the time. I’ll take anything cubist over that mechanical and schematic effort. To be fair I’m not in front of the work, but if it really gives you a hit I’ll bet it’s more an effect of scale than space. Space is like all the qualities of art—it comes about through the combined effect of the others. The feeling of space might give the greatest pleasure, but a too conscious manipulation of it at the artist’s end spoils the magic, something which your friends Alan Gouk and Fred Pollock have both suggested on this site. And if there’s no central quality how can there be a central effort? Improvisation, revision, a living process is better for abstraction than pursuit of a preset goal, and you seem to be coming round to that, but there’s still something not right, because why Davie or Gary Wragg and not Stella? Stella is all motion. In fact Wragg’s piece Eddie’s Cafe, in the Collings conversation, looks just like a Stella—without the space! Abandonment and Doubt, in Dan’s article, is Stella meets Hoffman, though Hoffman is so present in Stella anyway that it seems unnecessary. Your rhetoric is strong but recent bad choices bring your whole position into question.

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By: John Pollard http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-space-and-spontaneity/#comment-604230 Wed, 04 Jun 2014 07:03:53 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=8160#comment-604230 Sam, I think both their best are pretty comparable but obviously quite different. For me, you have to start comparing a painting with a painting to get very far on the question of ‘better’. Perhaps some of Davie’s colour is ‘subdued’ rather than dull, perhaps other elements take over in his paintings and take precedent; perhaps bright colours can get in the way of other elements in a painting? Dull doesn’t necessarily mean poor quality? It is quite impressive that some of Davie’s 50/60s paintings look as unique as anything….

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By: Sam http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-space-and-spontaneity/#comment-604147 Wed, 04 Jun 2014 06:01:24 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=8160#comment-604147 As a start I would say Wragg’s colour is better. There is a dullness which for me holds Davie’s most exciting paintings back.

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By: John Pollard http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-space-and-spontaneity/#comment-602771 Tue, 03 Jun 2014 15:39:22 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=8160#comment-602771 Just got to see the Portland show. I thought that five or six paintings were excellent, including the rather wild ‘Insignias Of The Gannet People’. Teetering on the edge of a chaotic mess I agree that it holds together superbly and quite intriguingly. Quite an achievement.

‘The White Magician’ is another very individual painting, quite mad (subject wise and formally) but again provokes thought, dialogue, and a lot of looking. Quite noticeable that I am still questioning myself in terms of what I really think about these two paintings. They certainly stand out for me in terms of doing something that looks and feels quite different, challenging, and provocative (all in a good way).

I also really enjoyed ‘Moon’s Nest’ a masterful, small painting on what looks like brown wrapping paper, and a couple of colourful slightly later works that still had some complexity (‘Romance for Moon and Stars’, ‘Horse Laughter’ and ‘Prelude for a Bird Dance).

A full retrospective would no doubt be quite a mixed bag but surely deserved by the standard of these earlier works.

A compare and contrast with Gary Wragg is worthwhile.

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By: anthony seymour http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-space-and-spontaneity/#comment-573723 Thu, 22 May 2014 17:44:47 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=8160#comment-573723 Very good to read this essay and reminding me of Davie’s old retrospective here in Bristol at the RWA and trying to talk about it in London with Patrick Heron after he came back from Australia.
Sorry I have missed the Wheatley show, but must try and see the Portland…..
Maybe though people at large are more likely to warm to John Bellany?

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By: Robin Greenwood http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-space-and-spontaneity/#comment-562846 Sun, 18 May 2014 18:08:28 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=8160#comment-562846 With you on the anarchy (!). Good art must have a whiff of real freedom…

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By: Patrick Jones http://abstractcritical.com/article/alan-davie-space-and-spontaneity/#comment-562739 Sun, 18 May 2014 16:04:47 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=8160#comment-562739 Well Done Robin,Its nice to witness your enthusiasms and see you putting your cards on the table face up.The article is full of your extraordinary claims [space not abstract][best figuration showing abstract painters the way]etc.which I dont comprehend but am looking forward to questioning you about at the Brancaster chronicles.Thank goodness you are not using sculpture to define painting space, as they are utterly different.I am at a disadvantage re/Davie as viewing these shows isnt possible yet.However some of your comments chime curiously Greenbergian,who also thought figurative art superior,and famously said no such thing as flat painting.I know J.Pollock was obsessed with his painting having no holes ,affirming the picture plane.I dont see this under and over situation in Alan and Freds painting as being sacrosanct,its just how their work operates.Probably doesnt occur in Rothko at all as his skin is softly permeated with absorbing colour,no layers visible ,no afterthoughts.The beauty is about the new abstraction is we dont know what it will look like ,except it will be made by individuals breaking through self-imposed barriers.Great colour in painting is so rare because its so difficult to master and needs a very long apprenticeship[Albers]

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