In 1971, the year this picture was painted, Davie began spending six months of the year on the Caribbean island of St Lucia, where he produced a huge number of what he called ‘automatic’ drawings and artworks. The most powerful of these he later translated into paintings such as this one, which represents a more patient and systematic approach to painting.
Fairy Tree No. 5
Date of work
Oil paint on canvas 172.7 x 213.4 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.