There was a large crowd at the launch of Tramway’s Steven Campbell exhibition, Love, last week although it was a cold, wintry, snowstorm of an evening in Glasgow. Steven Campbell left a career in engineering in the late 1970s to attend Glasgow School of Art just as funding for the arts in inner cities grew and the School of Art looked to reconnect with the production of figurative art. He won a Fulbright Scholarship and left for New York in 1982 where his career immediately took off. Returning to live in Scotland in 1985 he continued to paint as well as to work in collage and his style, along with three other Glasgow artists Ken Currie, Peter Howson and Adrian Wiszniewski, was branded the New Glasgow Boys by the media.
This Exhibition contains 12 large scale brightly coloured canvases, two woodblocks, four papier mache figures and a film of one of Steven’s lectures in the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. Many of the artworks refer to Campbell’s family and his reconnection with his homeland after a number of years living in New York. The large collage canvases consist of coloured paper and brightly painted lengths of string, most with an extremely long title. There’s nothing here that says Untitled IV. Each of his works contains many different ideas and highly unlikely scenarios but there is a lot of humour to be found, particularly in Thoughts of a Vegetarian and Penelope at Home Waiting for Dad’s Return (it looks like me trying to change a lightbulb!)
I particularly liked Dream of the Hunters Muse, which contained familiar characters from his paintings I remember in the Glasgow Museums collection, including Hunter with his gun and a Picasso style reclining nude. I also enjoyed I Dreamt I Shot Mussolini at Cowes Week – a mad title, full of strange ideas and with a definite self-portrait.
This show took me back to my early days in Glasgow and the Third Eye Centre, Transmission and Glasgow’s art taking centre stage around the world and leading the way in the contemporary art scene. This is the perfect antidote to cold winter nights – interesting, funny, brightly coloured, warming and full of love. He died too early, in 2007, but I am sure he would have been as proud of this exhibition as he was of the hugely successful On Form and Fiction exhibition at the Third Eye Centre in 1990.
If you haven’t been to Tramway yet it’s only one train stop from Glasgow Central and right next door to the station so there’s no excuse!
Don’t Miss – Dream of the Hunters Muse for a quintessential Steven Campbell artwork.
See the exhibition at Tramway every day except Monday until 25 March 2018
For more images from the Exhibition visit our Facebook page.