A leading member of the New Glasgow Boys Peter Howson's stark, bold and surreal style is iconic and instantly recognisable.
Howson was born in London and spending his early childhood in Isleworth. When he was four years old his father got a job with Air Canada and the family moved to Prestwick where the local economy was benefitting from the growth in commercial air travel. Soon after their arrival in Scotland Howson was given a painting set by his Grandmother and began to produce his first sketches. The young Howson was naturally shy and introverted, traits which were exacerbated at school where his Englishness meant he fell victim to bullying.
Howson enrolled at the Glasgow School of Art in 1975 where he was criticised to the point that he failed his first year exams. Disenchanted he dropped out and after a brief spell in the Royal Highland Fusiliers he started work as a doorman at a nightclub and becoming an obsessive bodybuilder, a past time which clearly influenced the muscle bound figures which are a regular feature of his work.
In the early eighties he returned to Glasgow where his career and reputation gained momentum. In 1989 he painted a version of The Sisters of Mercy which was sold in New York in 2005 for $186,000, a world record for the artist. This work was also used as the album cover of Throwing Copper by the Pennsylvanian band Live.
The present work is even more stark as a man heads towards the edge of the cliff with a tragic and resigned determination. The reaction of the women around him seem to be ambiguous with some trying to prevent this suicide while others almost seem to be willing it. The influence of Dali is clearly evident here particularly in the warped, nightmarish landscape but also in the chiselled features of the man's face. These elements combine to produce a compostion which is bleak and desperate but entirely compelling.
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