Adrian Wiszniewski RSA: The Night Gardener
Adrian Wiszniewski RSA HonFRIAS HRSW (b.1958) has become one of the best-known artists working in Scotland since he achieved instant fame in the 1980s as one of the ‘New Glasgow Boys’. Having been recognised since his early career for his bold figuration and dreamlike scenarios, Wiszniewski has traversed a plethora of media and techniques. He has made sculptures and prints; designed tapestries, rugs, a clock tower and the restaurant of Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art; and written plays for both stage and film; but he always returns to painting as his medium of choice. Characterised by a persistent figurative element, his paintings are rich with symbolic, political and philosophical musings. Creating paintings heavily decorated with colour, pattern and irregular line, Wiszniewski has built an international reputation and gained extensive critical acclaim.
This exhibition, entitled 'The Night Gardener', centres on paintings populated with contemplative figures set in vividly coloured Arcadian landscapes. Exotic flora and fauna are incorporated into the paintings, and subject to the same stylisation as the figures. Often working on a heroic scale with energy and fluidity, Wiszniewski’s paintings offer instant sensual gratification but employ a wide visual language. Within an environment of huge, threatening plants painted in liquid, luminous colours of red, orange and yellow, the world appears out of kilter and in a state of decay. Interlacing both classical and contemporary iconography, the exhibition presents a garden of unearthly delights, full of theatrical moments and private discourses.
Carefully rendering outlines and using abundant hatching, Wiszniewski creates characters that seem to exist within a counter reality, in which narratives are dictated by both comedy and tragedy. Speaking about this new body of work, Wiszniewski has said: ‘In the way that an archaeologist scratches and brushes in the hope of revealing a hidden treasure I scratch and brush in the hope of revealing a hidden truth. This is how I generally work. On occasion I will muster my skills in articulating a particular set of ideas.’ Seeking to reveal such hidden truths, Wiszniewski’s work is often esoteric whilst being compellingly narrative.
Wiszniewski was born in Castlemilk, Glasgow, in 1958 and trained in architecture before deciding to study fine art at Glasgow School of Art (1979-1983). Along with Ken Currie, Peter Howson and Steven Campbell, he was a leading figure in a revival of figurative painting in Scottish art. This group became known as the New Glasgow Boys after they were selected for a show entitled 'A Vigorous Imagination' at the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art. Wiszniewski was awarded the Lord Provost’s Medal from the City of Glasgow in 1999 and his work can be found in many international collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum, New York; Setagaya Museum, Tokyo; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; Tate Britain, London; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He lives with his wife and children in Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire.