Leo Davy: Paintings 1950–1987 – Abstract Creation | Kings Place

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Cello Unwrapped

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Leo Davy: Paintings 1950–1987 – Abstract Creation

7 February – 21 April 2017


Born in 1924, Leo Davy (1924–1987) studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art whilst the school was evacuated to Oxford during WWII. At the beating heart of post-war abstraction in Britain, Davy counted Kyffin Williams and John Latham amongst his student friends, and exhibited his paintings alongside William Gear, Victor Pasmore and Alan Davie at a mixed summer show at Gimpel Fils gallery in 1950. A fiercely independent spirit and increasing deafness contributed to Davy's withdrawal from the mainstream London art world, and his subsequent move to North Devon by the 1960s.

Davy possessed a strong philosophical bent, informing his painting with avid reading and friendships with radical intellectuals including psychiatrist R.D. Laing. The driving urge behind his art, from the 1950s until his death in 1987, was to explore what he termed ‘non-verbal concepts’, that which existed before language. Aesthetically, this manifested in abstract painting rooted in experience. In the 1950s, Davy deconstructed recognisably human elements into rhythmic, pulsating grids, mazes and webs of oil paint. From the 1970s until his death in 1987, he channelled the primordial energy of the Cornish landscape – churning waves, broad skies, and fleeting light effects – into abstract paintings predominately in white, blue, and pink, of intense romance and expressivity. For Davy, abstraction in paint provided a route for the viewer to reconnect with the innate, the instinctive, and pure emotion.

Leo Davys disregard for convention meant that, upon his premature death, his work had largely never been shown. This retrospective exhibition, following focused exhibitions at Piano Nobile in 2010 and 2014, presents Leo Davy's extraordinary, career.

piano-nobile.com

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Leo Davy, Horizon, 1981