Portrait of the Poet
By Steven Campbell

Oil Painting
Subject Matter
Reg. Number
75 x 63 cm

The portrait returns to Campbell's favourite theme: the surreal ridiculousness of the English gentleman. A number of his paintings show slightly old fashioned looking men dressed in tweed suits, as in "The Dangerous Early and Late Life of Lytton Strachey" in the Tate, and in this piece. Campbell said "I'm in art for the romance, the beauty of it", and the romantic ethos of the outsider and the tradition of the nineteenth century dandy were central to his work, in which he tried to embody the poetic tension that resulted from a clash of imagery.

Campbell's style of painting is figurative, with a hard linear quality to the application of paint. The colour palette is strong, with rich colours dominated by a blue-green light. The composition uses loose brush strokes in terracotta colours to inject energy into the scene. Words fly off the page as the red-maned poet of the title kneels in a bed of flowers and contemplates his surroundings. He is wearing brown laced shoes, a waistcoat, shirt, tie, flannel trousers and a red blazer. A river river flows by in the background: on the other side there are a number of buildings in Mediterranean style. There are four distinct sets of flowers on the ground surrounding the poet. He is surrounded by a series of three-dimensional letters floating in the air, though only one (W) is fully in the picture. Their meaning is unclear, though they clearly reference the poet's professional interests.

Steven Campbell (1953 - 2007) was born in Glasgow and worked as an engineer before studying at Glasgow School of Art as a mature student from 1978 to 1982 initially to study performance art before he switched to painting. he studied under Jack Knox Campbell: together Ken Currie, Peter Howson and Adrian Wisniewski, he became known as one of the new "Glasgow Boys." At the end of his studies he was awarded the Bram Stoker gold medal, and gained a Fulbright Scholarship which he used to go to New York to study at the Pratt Institute. In 1990 he was Artist in residence at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. In 1995 He was awarded a Leverhulme scholarship and travelled in Italy. In 2000 He received a Creative Scotland Award.

With thanks to Marlborough Fine Art and Artcyclopedia for information about this artist.

Other works you may like

Picture of Abbeyhill Joker by Kate Downie

Abbeyhill Joker

By Kate Downie


Picture of A Road in Fife by Ann Oram

A Road in Fife

By Ann Oram


Picture of Waxing Star by Simon Fraser

Waxing Star

By Simon Fraser