international painting annual 6 exhibition-in-print
online resource

Alan McGowan
Edinburgh, Scotland

detail image


My work is nearly always figurative, always from life, and focuses on trying to capture the energy and interplay between artist, artwork and subject. My paintings explore the tension between what I see as the inherent elusiveness of the world and our attempts to hold on to it. Seeing language itself as a vehicle for these attempts the language of paint and colour, tone, runniness, translucency, opacity, line etc become a second subject in tandem with the model, a parallel terrain for exploration.

My artworks have ranged from nude life studies, portraiture, skeleton paintings and figurative sculpture through to landscape. I also teach drawing, painting and anatomy for artists in the UK and internationally. In 2012 I published a book of drawings ìThe Language of the Bodyî exploring the relationship between working in the life studio and the philosophical concerns of writers such as Michael de Montaigne and Marcel Proust.





born: 1964, Scotland



Edinburgh College of Art, BA (hons), 1987


selected awards/honors

BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2015
Threadneedle Prize for Figurative Art Exhibition 2014
Sky Portrait Artist of the Year Semi-Finalist 2014
Powderhall Bronze Award for Sculpture, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, 2014


selected publications

BP Portrait Award 2015 Catalogue. London, England: National Portrait Gallery 2015
International Painting Annual 5. Manifest Press 2015 p.128-130
Portrait Artist of the Year: A Little Book of Portraits. Quadrille Publishing 2014 p.30
The Language of the Body, McGowan. Saturation Press, Edinburgh 2013. ISBN 9780957242807


selected solo or two-person exhibits

Somewhere In This Song, St Margaret's House Gallery, Edinburgh, 2015
The Language of the Body, Leith School of Art, Edinburgh, 2012
Faust's Dream, Vic Naylor, London, 2004
Faust, Matthew Gallery, Edinburgh University, 1999


selected group shows

BP Portrait Award Exhibition, National Portrait Gallery, London, 2015
The Ruth Borchard Self Portrait Prize, King's Place Gallery, London, 2015
Threadneedle Prize for Figurative Art Exhibition, Mall Galleries, London, 2014
Society of Portrait Sculptors Exhibition, Sladmore Contemporary, London, 2014



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