Artist Spotlight: Alexander Millar

by | Apr 29, 2024 | Blog | 0 comments

The value of the past, for an artist, can never be understated. For Alexander Millar, this value underscores both his artwork and his outlook. Millar’s work both celebrates and reinvents the past, inspired by the fascinating time he grew up in, a unique world filled with unique characters…  

Millar has spoken about his childhood in a low-income area of Scotland, commenting that it seemed more like the 1940’s than the 1960’s. Aware even then of the glimpses of the past that surrounded his childhood, Millar spent time observing the beauty and oddities of the world around him. He remembers seeing the people he passed every day as characters; dancers in a strange ballet that consisted of men wobbling on bicycles and old women gossiping on street corners. And, when buying Alexander Millar artworks, collectors can find themselves imagining their own role in the imagined scenes.  

Inspired by these scenes, Millar’s most famous artworks are his character-based pieces. His most instantly recognisable works feature his classic “Gadgie” in a suit and flat cap… usually slumping home from work with the intention of rewarding himself with a pint on the way. It’s a deeply personal reflection of everyday life for Millar, and one that instantly resonates with anyone who grew up in a town or time similar to his own. However, despite the very specific geography of the Gadgie – and of Millar’s other favourite characters, like his delightfully “missile-shaped” women in bright tartan headscarves – Millar’s work has resonated with collectors around the world, not just with those who remember Gadgies from their own childhoods in Scotland or Northern England.

Alexander Millar ‘Home From Home’ Original oil on canvas
Having taught himself the basics of painting from library books, Millar started his art career by selling watercolour paintings through local shops.  The style he is now known for, with his expressive, figurative character-based pieces, evolved slowly, coming into fruition at a particularly difficult time after his father passed away. He has spoken about the creative push he experienced in response to this challenging period. One of Millar’s favourite themes for his paintings, the image of a man walking away from the viewer, was initially inspired by the loss of his father. However, the series has also taken on lighter and subtler associations, as the character’s journey invites the viewer to walk into the painting and follow the figure ahead of them.   Speaking about his artistic influences, Millar has said that the style and technique he most closely identifies with is Impressionism. This inspiration can be easily traced in his soft, multi-hued brushstrokes of his oil paintings, and is perhaps most recognisable in his full scene artworks, with violet shadows highlighting the curve of an aqueduct, or broken yellow moonlight catching on cobblestones. However, these influences can also be seen in the colours and shadows that bring life and form to his figurative works: subtle layers of colour and texture playing against the quasi-caricatures of men and women in their flat caps and headscarves. The use of these traditional techniques further leans into the sweet nostalgia of Millar’s works, placing his characters firmly in an imagined past.   Millar has been represented by galleries in multiple countries, with collectors around the world delighted as they find Alexander Millar paintings for sale alongside sketches, limited edition prints, and even sculptures. Overall, Millar’s sentimental yet honest approach to his subject matter continues to find favour with those who share his love of the past, its pathos, humour and characters. His representation of the under-appreciated working-class figures from his childhood has gained international attention, and cemented him as one of the UK’s most beloved artists.
original artwork my best friend by alexander millar
Limited edition bronze of two tango dancers, dynamic and rare.
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