Artist biography

Scottish painter and printmaker. He is associated with Robert MacBryde, with whom he worked and whom he met at the Glasgow School of Art in 1932. After a travelling scholarship to France and Italy (1937–9), he and MacBryde were introduced by Peter Watson to the Neo-Romantic circle in London (see Neo-romanticism). During World War II Colquhoun joined the Civil Defence Corps but continued to paint. After his early works, for example Tomato Plants (c. 1942; priv. col., see exh. cat., p. 55), he concentrated on the theme of the isolated figure, for example Woman with Leaping Cat (1946; London, Tate). These existential images were favourably received and compared with those of contemporaries such as Francis Bacon. Colquhoun's influences included Pablo Picasso, Jankel Adler and Percy Wyndham Lewis, although his art and lifestyle can be understood best in the context of Scottish nationalism. Always in debt, his decline was delayed briefly by a retrospective exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London in 1958.

Bibliography
A Paradise Lost: The Neo-Romantic Imagination in Britain, 1935–55 (exh. cat., ed. D. Mellor; London, Barbican A.G., 1987)
M. Yorke: The Spirit of the Place: Nine Neo-Romantic Artists and their Times (London, 1988), pp. 225–54, passim
Avant-garde British Printmaking (exh. cat. by F. Carey and A. Griffiths, London, BM, 1990)

VIRGINIA BUTTON

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