Over the past two decades, Alison McWhirter has consolidated her
position as arguably the most gifted artist among the younger generation of New
Scottish Colourists, producing works of irresistible allure. She enjoys
significant and well-deserved renown at home and abroad for her highly original
still life paintings; her range of diverse landscape motifs; her bold,
compelling abstracts; and, most recently, her ground-breaking series of
reclining nudes. Paintings in all these categories are exuberant in their
colouring, technically innovative, and compositionally daring. In them
there is a palpable tension between depiction and abstraction; between what is
observed and what is imagined; what is seen and what is felt. In 2021,
emphasising that her paintings are concerned with “pure feeling”, she wrote
that she was “striving to get at the beauty in the things that surround us, to
that which elevates us beyond reason”. Her deceptively modest compositions - in
inverse proportion to the profundity of their message - express an array of
personal emotions while simultaneously exploring universal human truths.
Alison’s paintings are underpinned by her unquestionable sincerity and
characterised by such freshness and enthusiasm that they appear to have been
painted spontaneously. In fact, although there are occasional acts of
last-minute spontaneity, they are fundamentally the product of long periods of
reflection and introspection. Alison is remarkable for her willingness to
acknowledge the struggles entailed in making a painting; in her own words “to
embrace the mysterious nature of the creative process”. Her style continues to
evolve as a result of her constant, restless, unquenchable urge for
experimentation, and an inexorable quest for ever greater abstraction. To this
end, she has recently resorted increasingly frequently to the use of her own
fingers and the palette knife, wielded at times with breath-taking
bravura. The dominant colours are often transferred directly from the
tube to the canvas, then smeared or swirled at will across the surface,
culminating in a sensuous, thick, buttery impasto.
Over the years, Alison has attracted a large and devoted following of
private collectors and gained the respect and admiration of fellow artists and
art critics alike.
Alison was born in Dumfries on 14 June 1975. In 1994 she
embarked on a one-year foundation course at the Cumbria College of Art and
Design in Carlisle. Immediately afterwards, she continued her training as a
painter at the prestigious Bath Spa Academy (formerly the Bath Academy of Art),
from which she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with honours in Fine
Art in 1998. She remained in Bath to continue her studies, and in 2000 was
awarded an MFA in Visual Culture by Bath Spa University.
Since that time, Alison has exhibited to wide acclaim nationally and
internationally. Her works were included between 2013 and 2017 in the annual
shows of the Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts; from 2014 to 2018 at the New York
Art Fair; in 2015 at the Hong Kong Art Fair; and in 2019 at the Singapore Art
Fair. In 2021 ‘Pink Nude’ was shown at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh.
She had her first solo exhibition entitled ‘True Colours’ in 2016 in London,
where she continues to show every two years. Her Solo Show at the Annan Gallery
‘Meditations on Colour’ will be her only Solo Exhibition of 2021.