John Bellany


b. 1942, Scotland

International figurative artist John Bellany was born in Scotland in 1942. During the 1960’s he studied at the Edinburgh College of Art and then at the Royal College of Art in London. Bellany is one of the great British painters of the last 50 years and regarded as one of the foremost Scottish painters of our time. In 2012 the Scottish National Gallery honoured his 70th birthday with a retrospective exhibition. A contemporary and friend of Albert Irvin, he was in 1986 given the first solo show ever to be held at the National Portrait Gallery, London. In 1994 he was awarded the CBE by the Queen.

Bellany was born and brought up in a fishing village near Edinburgh, a factor that has often been of great influence to his work. His imagery is frequently derived from the sea, then transformed into a personal mythology. Best known for his large-scale allegorical works depicting a combination of human and animal figures, Bellany’s paints with frenzied brushstrokes seeing bright hues everywhere and transplanting them onto the canvas.

Bellany is also renowned for his painted portraits. Consistently working with rich and vibrant colours, the influence of the Scottish Colourists is evident. He manages to incorporate into his work his own interpretation of ‘Northern Expressionism’, having produced numerous spontaneous portraits of both himself and others, the figures appearing prominently each time.

Bellany’s is one of the big voices of 20th-century. His art grows from genuine feelings, their bigness coming from his observing of Grunewald, Titian, Rembrandt and Beckmann. The Peppercanister had their first solo show of Bellany’s work in June of 2011showcasing a variety of outstanding examples of his work.

His paintings make up part of the collections of many major museums and galleries throughout the world, including the National Galleries of Scotland, the Tate Gallery, London, The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, to name but a few.