peter howson

artist biography

although he was born in london, peter howson is perhaps most strongly associated with glasgow, the city where he grew up, studied art, and has found inspiration for his ongoing examination of the human condition.

howson had a troubled upbringing, which has notably impacted his style and subject matter. his clear-eyed view of those areas of society which do not always find representation in the art world has gained him acclaim both from critics, and from those who can see themselves and their struggles in his works.

howson’s work has received attention throughout his career, and his success has grown since he was made artist in residence for the university of st andrews in 1985. in 1993, he was made britain’s official war artist for the bosnian civil war. he received an obe for his work in 2009, and has work represented in some of the best known galleries in the world.


howson’s work is characterised by exaggerated figures in violent and extreme situations. the figures are often muscular men, captured in moments that allow howson to explore the damaging nature of violence and harmful distortions of masculinity.

one of the most recognisable notes of howson’s work is his use of strong lines and deep, clear shadow to create his exaggerated figurative subjects. his colours are generally subtle, relying predominantly on earthy and natural tones that highlight the reality behind each hyperbolic scene.

howson’s narrative imagery is presented in a way that has been compared to that of the old masters, in which a scene can be expansive yet detailed, full of suffering yet transportive. at the same time, his work is undeniably contemporary, cementing him among those who famously revived scottish figurative art in the 1980s for a modern audience.

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