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Details & Cataloguing

The Scottish Sale

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London

Stephen Conroy
B.1964
FIGURE STUDY
signed and dated on the overlap.: Stephen Conroy 2000
oil on canvas
183 by 122 cm.; 72 by 48 in.
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Provenance

Marlborough Fine Art, London;
Private Collection

Catalogue Note

Stephen Conroy was born in Helensburgh in 1964 and gained his formative artistic training at the Glasgow School of Art between 1982-7. His fellow students included Ken Currie, Adrian Wiszniewski and Steven Campbell who were, and still are, some of the leading contemporary Scottish painters, collectively generating significant attention as The New Glasgow Boys. Conroy was quick to develop a formidable reputation and in the years immediately following his graduation his work was included in The Vigorous Imagination at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh in 1987 and in New British Painting, which toured five American venues between 1988-90. Conroy held a solo exhibition at Marlborough Fine Art in London in 1989 which after much acclaim toured to Manchester and Glasgow in 1992. Marlborough still represent Conroy and some of his most recent exhibitions include another solo show at Marlborough in 2008 and a Retrospective Exhibition which was shown at Schloss Gottorf in Germany in 2003 as well as an Exhibition of Recent Paintings, Etchings and Lithographs at Marlborough in New York in the same year. Conroy, like Howson and Campbell, was fortunate enough to be given an international platform early in his career which exposed his work to an important set of collectors abroad, particularly in the United States, as well as in Britain.

Figure Study is highly typical of the new figural language which Conroy developed in the early 1990s focusing entirely on the monumental, solitary human figure. The turning point seems to have come in 1992 with the ironically titled Abstract Painting in which for the first time we see the isolated figure of a man standing alone besides a telephone and beneath three precision clocks. This image was used as the frontispiece for the 2000 edition of George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, published by Penguin. Few artists focus their attention so singularly on the lone human figure and in this way he belongs to a unique artistic tradition alongside the likes of Anthony Gormley. Conroy, like Peter Howson, draws heavily on the monumental figurative tradition of Old Master paintings and on the modern realism explored by the Camden Town Group, in particular Walter Sickert. Figure Study displays the quintessential power and brutality of Conroy's figures, often in formal dress, positioned at the centre of a carefully balanced, semi-abstract setting.

The Scottish Sale

|
London