Featuring ancient architectural elements alongside various symbols, including the Egyptian ankh character, this painting reveals Davie’s fascination with the ideas of the psychoanalyst Carl Jung, who claimed that symbols indicated a collective memory. The picture went through countless transformations over three years before arriving at its final state – the hidden layers perhaps suggesting levels of consciousness.
Entrance for a Red Temple No. 1
Date of work
Oil paint on canvas 213.4 x 172.7 cm © Alan Davie
A Scottish painter and printmaker, Davie drew on imagery and symbolism from various world cultures, both ancient and modern, to create paintings of startling originality. Born in Grangemouth, Scotland in 1920, he first earned global recognition in the 1950s as one of the first British artists after the Second World War to develop an expressive form of abstraction. Fascinated by global mythologies, and seeing himself more as a medium – or shaman – than artist, he attempted to liberate painting from mental processes, creating a style that was spontaneous, improvised and complex.