Marlborough Fine Art is pleased to present a retrospective of celebrated Scottish painter Steven Campbell. The show consists of a selection of works made between 1983 and his untimely death in 2007.
This major exhibition is a rare insight into the career of an artist who is considered to have pioneered the renaissance of Scottish art in the 1980s. It is the first major exhibition in London since his solo show at Marlborough Fine Art in 2009.
Best known for his monumental figurative paintings, Campbell’s unique works emerged from an array of personal and literary inspirations to create surreal narratives which offer Campbell’s comment on social and human conditions. His paintings often depict recurring characters in dream-like scenarios, which are full of humour and ironic historical references.
Campbell enrolled at Glasgow School of Art in 1978, studying installation and performance art, which became influences within his theatrical paintings. Towards the end of his studies, Campbell was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship and moved to New York in 1982 where he made an impression on the art scene, receiving acclaim for his thought-provoking works.
Campbell moved back to Glasgow in 1987, during this time his work became more expressive. As figurative painting became less fashionable in the 1990s, this proved a difficult period for Campbell and he started to experiment with different materials and themes within his work. Solemn undertones and dark irony became recurring themes, reflecting his own personal struggles during this period.
Despite the variations and changes within his practice over the years, Campbell’s works present a highly distinctive and original aesthetic, in an intelligent, powerful and a sometimes autobiographical style of painting.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with an introduction written by novelist Michael Bracewell.
Besides several solo exhibitions in the USA in the 1980’s, Campbell also held exhibitions in Munich (1984), Geneva (1986), and Tokyo (1990). In 1990, the Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, organised a major touring exhibition of his work ‘On Form and Fiction’, which was seen in Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno; Marlborough Fine Art, London; Art Gallery, Aberdeen; Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester and Art Gallery, Southampton. His final major exhibition was The Caravan Club at Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh in 2002.
Campbell’s work can be found in major museums and public collections including; Arts Council of Great Britain (UK), Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA), Art Institute of Chicago (USA), Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (UK), and Tate Britain (UK).
We are delighted to announce that this years winner of the Hunt Medal is performance artist Tamara MacArthur, Glasgow School of Art.
The Trust finances the annual Steven Campbell Hunt Medal for a student artist of great promise and talent at the Glasgow Art School. This is open to application and nomination for the students who display Poetic Creativity and the recipients are chosen by Carol Campbell, Glasgow School of Art Staff and nominees of the Trustees and Advisors to the Trust.
We wish Tamara a successful career and hope she is pleased to join a strong line of previous recipients of our award.
The Steven Campbell Trust Lecture 2017: Rimbaud Panel Discussion
6pm, Monday 6 February 2017 CCA Glasgow
On the occasion of the eighth annual Steven Campbell Trust Lecture, the Steven Campbell Trust were delighted to announce a panel of invited guests to discuss the enduring influence of 19th century French poet Arthur Rimbaud on popular culture.
The event was be chaired by Michael Pedersen, poet and co-founder of Neu! Reekie!
In essence an eclectic postmodernist, Campbell’s complex layered artworks reference multiple sources.
The iconic image of the young rebel poet Arthur Rimbaud is a recurring figure in Campbell’s paintings and drawings, poems such as ‘The Drunken Boat’ of 1871 were a vital source of inspiration.
Hailed by Patti Smith as “the first punk poet” the panel at the CCA, Glasgow included: poet and educator, Professor David Kinloch, University of Strathclyde; songwriter, poet and broadcaster Lach, a New Yorker in exile and founder of the Anti-Folk movement; and Scottish artist and flâneuse, Karen Strang.
The CCA event page: http://cca-glasgow.com/programme/steven-campbell-trust-lecture-2017-rimbaud
Facebook: The Steven Campbell Trust
Inge Hardison, left, in 1957, with a sculpture she donated to Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. Her daughter, Yolande, unveils the work, with the help of Martin R. Steinberg, hospital director (Credit Allyn Baum/The New York Times)
During my time in New York, I had the pleasure of meeting and working with many interesting and creative figure models, all of whom contributed to my collaborative myth-making project. One model who came to my studio to participate was Yolande Hardison, who truly entered into the spirit of the collaboration, working with another model called Daniel to create dynamic and theatrical scenes that I certainly couldn’t have conceived of alone. The 2 hour session in my studio with Yolande and Daniel was enormous fun, with lots of laughter and creativity.
Yolande Hardison with a poster cataloguing some of her late mother Inge Hardison’s achievements
After our collaboration was over, Yolande told me a little bit about her mother, the late sculptor, photographer and actress Ruth Inge Hardison (you can see the two of them together in 1957, in the image at the top of this blog post). Yolande spoke about her mother’s work with such passion and enthusiasm, painting a vivid picture of what Inge Hardison was like as a person. Yolande is currently in the process of planning a book about her mother’s career, in which she hopes to provide insight into Inge Hardison’s life from the perspective of a daughter who loved her and knew her well – offering a different sort of reading experience to art books that tend to only focus on the professional, rather than the personal.
Yolande’s apartment, packed with her mother’s art
A week after her modelling session, Yolande was kind enough to invite my boyfriend Brian and I to her apartment on the upper West side of Manhattan, where we were given the opportunity to see some of her mother’s work. The living room was packed with an array of sculptures from every stage of Inge Hardison’s career, the walls covered in her black-and-white photographs that beautifully captured the everyday lives of people in her community. As well as preserving and displaying her mother’s artwork, Yolande has started the time-consuming process of cataloguing articles and documents related to her mother’s life and art career.
There are various online sources available in which you can find out more about Inge Hardison (links are provided at the bottom of this page), but I’ll give a brief overview of her life, so that you can see what a privilege it was to view such an extensive collection of her work, and find out what she was like as a person. The information below is quoted directly from the article, Inge Hardison at 100, A Century of Expression in Life and Art, by Alice Bernstein (http://iraaa.museum.hamptonu.edu/page/Inge-Hardison-at-100).
‘Ruth Inge Hardison was born in Virginia in 1914. Soon after her birth, her parents fled Jim Crow racism and segregation, settling in Brooklyn. After graduating from high school, she landed the role of “Topsy,” the enslaved child in the 1936 Broadway production of “Sweet River,” George Abbott’s adaptation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Her portrayal of the slave girl whose brutal treatment doesn’t kill her wit and kindness won her rave reviews. She also appeared in “The Country Wife” with Ruth Gordon, and in the 1946 production of “Anna Lucasta,” co-starring with Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.
‘In the midst of all this, Inge Hardison discovered clay and was swept by the beauty and power of this material coming from the earth and, with it, her own ability and passion to express herself in this art form. She is best known for a series of bronze busts, begun in 1963, of African Americans who fought slavery and led the struggle for civil rights, and who at that time had not yet been acknowledged in the National Hall of Fame in Washington, DC: Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Dr. Martin Luther King.
‘One sees palpably in her work her great respect for those who helped change history, as in her series, “Ingenious Americans,” which includes Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806) surveyor, clock-maker, mathematician; and Garrett Morgan (1877-1963), inventor of early traffic lights and gas masks. She also sculpted large public works: a life-size bronze, Mother and Child (her gift to Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan after the birth of her daughter Yolande’.
As well as being inspired by Inge Hardison’s work, one of the things I found most personally touching about my trip to the apartment was hearing her daughter Yolande’s stories about her. Yolande showed Brian and I a lovely video taken during Inge Hardison’s 100th birthday celebration, at which her mother was able to give an inspiring and motivational speech, in spite of her Alzheimer’s, which at that stage in her life was very advanced. Yolande also read us a short story that she wrote about her mother – describing a trip they took together to a local park, which captures beautifully a fleeting moment in time, giving insight into the nature of their relationship. After hearing this story, I’m very much looking forward to reading Yolande’s book about her mother when it’s released.
I was also very interested to learn that Yolande got into life modelling after being sculpted by her mother when she was just a little girl (see above image).
Just before Brian and I left Yolande’s apartment, she very kindly gifted me a brooch, whose design is based on her mother’s sculpture of the abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sojourner_Truth), along with a typed copy of her own short story. These are wonderful mementos of my time in New York, which I’ll treasure along with my memories of seeing Inge Hardison’s work and legacy.
To find out more about Inge Hardison, please follow the links below:
Post written by Claire Paterson, recipient of the Steven Campbell New York Scholarship
In recognition of the fact that the Steven Campbell New York Scholarship was made possible by of the creative legacy of the artist himself, I’d like to talk about some of my favourite paintings of his over the next couple of weeks.
Steven Campbell’s work is complex and multifaceted, extensively referencing the history of art and philosophy in order to create his own distinctive narratives and mythology. Literature too served as an inspiration for Campbell, and though he would weave elements from various literary genres into his work, he was particularly drawn to the greats of the Gothic genre.
This nod to Gothic literature is apparent in one of my favourite Campbell paintings, Spider on the Window, Monster in the Land (above), a piece inspired by an Edgar Allan Poe story – a tale which, according to Campbell himself, ‘took its inspiration from a painting’ (source: p.83, The Paintings of Steven Campbell: The Story so Far, by Duncan MacMillan).
In Poe’s story, the protagonist looks through a window and sees a monster on the hill in the distance. Terrified, he looks again, realising that the monster is actually only a spider on the window.
This seems to be the case in Campbell’s painting too, but on closer inspection, it becomes apparent that the artist has complicated matters by placing figures in the landscape, fleeing in fear – a pictorial trick that raises the question: is the insect located on the web in the window, or is it enormous and chasing people through the landscape beyond the glass?
As the writer Duncan MacMillan says in his book on Campbell, the artist is investigating ‘different levels of painted space, and depths of narrative reality’ (p.83), an idea that’s reinforced by the symbolism featured in the piece.
One of the characters in Campbell’s painting holds a book, perhaps intended to make us think of the stories we often use to interpret our own reality. There are also mirrors spaced throughout the composition: alluding to the different artists throughout history who’ve used mirrors as pictorial devices intended to peel back and expose the illusions contained in the picture plane itself.
In Spider on the Window, there are two odd figures reflected in what appears to be a large mirror on the left of the central group. This device is reminiscent of the unconventional composition found within the painting Las Meninas (below), by the 17th century artist Velazquez, in which a mirror is used to explore the spatial relationship between the sitters and the artist himself.
If we go by the position of the reflected figures in Spider on the Window, however, we see that they should be visibly situated in the very centre of the composition with their backs to us, standing between the seated figures and the mirror itself. Perhaps they could be ghosts or reverse-vampires in this scenario: reflected in the mirror, but invisible in the room itself. But this is only the case if we accept that the object is actually a mirror, and not in fact a further painting within the painting – an idea that would be supported by the shadow that falls across the object’s surface.
In the top left hand corner, we see another mirror – or possibly another painting – reflecting (or depicting) an insect scuttling across a landscape, making us even more aware that everything in this scene is illusion. This unsettling sense of artifice is further amplified by the inclusion of the strange, dislocated nudes, two of whom hold up hand mirrors that reflect nothing. Again, Campbell disorients with ambiguity, calling into question the painted reality he presents to us.
To quote Campbell himself here: ‘The flatness of the window is like the flatness of the canvas and the flatness of the mirrors. I painted the chairs and the women in the foreground flat to play with this idea of distance and flatness and what a canvas is.’
This painting is a wonderful example of the intricate games Campbell liked to play with perception – all the while exploring the language & sign systems we use to construct our understanding of the world around us.
Next week, I’ll be looking at the way in which Campbell used the character of Pinocchio to explore, in his own words, ‘what was the truth and what was lies in painting… a kind of play on what is honest art and what is untrue art.’
Sources used in this blog post: The Paintings of Steven Campbell: The Story So Far by Duncan MacMillan. If you’re wanting to find out more about the work of Steven Campbell, I’d highly recommend getting this Duncan MacMillan book, which looks at Campbell’s work in a great deal of depth. The book is available to purchase on Amazon.
In previous blog posts, I’ve also referenced the book ‘Steven Campbell: Wretched Stars, Insatiable Heaven’, by Kathy Chambers and Neil Mulholland (also available to order on Amazon)
Post written by Claire Paterson, recipient of the Steven Campbell New York Scholarship
Here are some highlights from my final busy weeks in New York. I just want to thank everyone who’s made this residency possible: including the Steven Campbell Trust, the Saltire Society, the staff at the ISCP, and all of the models & artists I’ve collaborated with while I’ve been here. The whole experience has been inspiring and unforgettable, and I feel it will have an impact on my practice for years to come.
Tuesday 17th January
This evening I spoke at an Artist’s Salon event at the International Studio and Curatorial Programme, discussing my own collaborative project and the work of Steven Campbell.
NY figure model Zeke Jolson also attended the talk, and was able to offer his own thoughts on the myth-making process from a model’s perspective. I invited attendees up to my studio afterwards to see some of the results of the project, receiving some very useful feedback and insight into the new work.
ISCP resident Olaniyi Rasheed Akindiya (aka. Akirash) also spoke at the Salon event, discussing his practice in which he utilizes ‘a multitude of techniques and materials, including repurposed objects, with which he creates mixed media paintings, sculptures, installations, video works, photographs, sound pieces and performances.’ To learn more about Akirash’s art and his non-profit organisation that seeks to empower children, youths and young mothers, please visit: www.artwithakirash.com
A couple of days after the Salon event, my partner Brian an I visited Akirash in his 2nd floor studio, where we were able to see some of his work in progress, including a piece made from reels of photo-negative film spilling down one wall like a waterfall; intricately woven sculptures unwinding from the ceiling; and dozens of hand-made suitcases and trunks displaying the currency of various countries.
Akirash kindly lent me a piece for use in my final myth-making sessions with models: a netted sculpture woven from string and cardboard, that’s deceptively small and compact until it’s unfurled.
Wednesday 18th January
This afternoon I arranged a photo session with 2 models, Yolande and Daniel. With 2 people collaborating together, the myth-making process took on a different, very theatrical dynamic: the studio becoming more like a stage where various strange and spontaneous scenes were played out over the course of a couple of hours.
Thursday 19th January
Today Brian & I attended a Third Thursday event at ISCP Director Susan Hapgood’s house, where she treated us to some homemade guacomole, and we got the opportunity to catch up with other residents. The ISCP then arranged for us to gain free access to the Outsider Art Fair at the Metropolitan Pavilion, where we were given complimentary cocktails.
Friday 20th January
This morning I had a meeting with visiting critic Xiaoyu Weng, a curator at the Guggenheim and the founding director of the Kadist Foundation’s Asia Programs. She gave me some great tips on artists to look up, including Chinese artist Yin-Ju Chen, who looks at the relationship between the cosmos and human behaviour, and ‘the varying methods we use to understand the universe and the rules which govern it.’ (www.yinjuchen.com).
In the afternoon, NY figure models Zeke and Tania came to my studio for a photo shoot, and we were able to use Akirash’s beautiful sculpture as an interactive prop. This was the second time model Zeke Jolson has worked with me, and I’m looking forward to getting his perspective on the results of this new collaboration.
Saturday 21st January
Today I made photographic documentation of sculptures and props, before getting started on the long process of clearing out my studio: returning work to different artists around the city, and finding homes for all of the objects I’ve collected and found in thrift stores over the last couple of months.
It was a real honour being shown around Yolande’s apartment and getting to see her mother’s wonderful work. I’m actually planning to dedicate a full blog post to my trip to Yolande’s house – which I’ll put online in a couple of week’s time.
Thursday 26th January
Today I had a meeting in my studio with Valerie Smith, a curator at Barnard.She introduced me to the work of various different artists, including Cerith Wyn Evans, who focuses on adopting ‘a communal rather than a single authorial voice’.
In the afternoon I headed down to DUMBO for a meeting with Anne Barlow at Art in General, where we talked about future possibilities for my collaborative project, and ways it might possibly be developed.
Brian and I finished off the day by visiting the Smack Mellon gallery, which had an exhibition on by figurative artist Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze. After dusk fell, we took a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to see the city at night.
Friday 27th January
This morning I finished emptying my studio, and after saying goodbye to residents and staff, handed in my keys.
In the afternoon, B and I visited the Neue Gallery, before heading a couple of blocks up the road to the Guggenheim, where we were particularly drawn to a work by Sun Xun called Mythological Time, an animated video projection depicting a strange world where past, present and future seem to coexist, expanding ‘the traditional notion of history to include half-remembered or fantastical images, myths and ideologies.’
We then had a dusk-time stroll through Central Park, stumbling across the huge Alice in Wonderland statue overlooking one of the lakes.
Saturday 28th January
My final day in New York was spent at my sister’s apartment, posing for photos that will hopefully become part of a new series of work she’ll be starting soon. I love the fact that we’ll both be showing up in each other’s paintings over the coming year!
In the evening, G, Brian & I went to an opening put on by ISCP resident Laura Fitzgerald, where she showcased a new body of work in her Grandfather’s Manhattan apartment.
It was wonderful seeing Laura’s intricate, beautifully rendered drawings displayed in creative ways throughout the apartment: pieces arrayed as place settings at the dining-room table, and little sketches tucked, half-secretively, into drawers.
It was also a treat getting to settle down and watch some of her film pieces in the study and bedroom, as well as reading some of her own distinctly quirky and philosophical musings pinned up in the apartment’s bathrooms. After Laura’s opening, we all went out for a drink to toast my final night in New York.
I’d like to finish this final NY post by putting up a quote by the New Mexico artist Elizabeth Kay, who recently wrote to me with her interpretation of Lemurian Pole Shift (below), one of the paintings I produced while on the ISCP residency. Liz has been a major collaborator in this project from its inception, & has, in a way, acted as a long-distance creative consultant throughout the entire process – offering thoughts and advice that have continued to have a massive influence on my practice.
Liz says, ‘Claire, it is a fairly quiet Friday in Santa Fe and a good opportunity to write you as I look at your painting “Lemurian Pole Shift (Becoming Part III).” I want to say again that I’m mightily impressed by how you are following through with your ability to take on the New York art scene, weave what you have found there into your myth-finding project and orchestrate some of this into a powerful (big!) painting that is beautiful and disturbing. The beauty of the painting (for me) lies in its luscious colours, your skill at rendering the human form, and the visual counterpoint of those enigmatic lines superimposed on the picture that bring to mind a target, or a game, or a labyrinth.
‘The disturbing aspect is that the subject appears to represent a regression of some sort. A grown man clutching an oversized rocking horse suggests mental disorder. The curious object on top of the horse’s head, like something between a baseball cap and a duck bill, adds an odd and cocky element to the picture.
‘Given the hideous political times we are entering it is tempting for me to see this painting as an image of the dysfunctional, immature, crumpled masculine. Since we can’t see the subject’s face we cannot be certain it actually is a man, though the foot and muscular arms look more masculine than feminine. The figure occupies a shallow red space marked by long black shadows. The red space feels ‘hot’ or ‘burning’, suggesting (perhaps) some quality (mental/spiritual/physical) that is being ‘cooked’ or is in a state of being transformed. The saccrine sweet, vaguely idiotic expression painted on the rocking horse reiterates the impression of an infantile state of mind.
‘Having said all that, I now move to the title of the painting for further clues as to what it might be about.
‘ “Lemuria” (I am now reading on Wikipedia), is believed by some (disproved by science) to be a continent that sunk under the ocean in a cataclysmic change, “such as a pole shift.” For occultists, the idea of Lemuria was flypaper for the imagination. Madam Blavatsky believed Lemuria’s extraordinarily weird looking early human inhabitants to have had highly developed psychic powers, including telepathic communication. According to occult lore, Lemurians migrated to Atlantis, bred with beasts and evolved (or de-volved) into Cro-Magnon people.
‘So there it is… an alternative myth to the standard classics. And I have learned something!’
Quote provided by Elizabeth Kay
I’d like to thank everyone for reading, and for following some of my thoughts throughout the course of my residency. I’ll continue to write on this page, and over the next few weeks will do more posts about my favourite Steven Campbell paintings, in recognition of the fact that this project has been made possible by the very first Steven Campbell New York Scholarship, and Steven’s creative legacy.
On the occasion of the eighth annual Steven Campbell Trust Lecture, the Steven Campbell Trust are delighted to announce a panel of invited guests to discuss the enduring influence of 19th century French poet Arthur Rimbaud on popular culture.
In essence an eclectic postmodernist, Campbell’s complex layered artworks reference multiple sources. The iconic image of the young rebel poet Arthur Rimbaud is a recurring figure in Campbell’s paintings and drawings, poems such as ‘The Drunken Boat’ of 1871 were a vital source of inspiration.
Hailed by Patti Smith as “the first punk poet” the panel at the CCA, Glasgow will include: poet and educator, Professor David Kinloch, University of Strathclyde; songwriter, poet and broadcaster Lach, a New Yorker in exile and founder of the Anti-Folk movement; and Scottish artist and flâneuse, Karen Strang.