Craigie Aitchison: The Prints 1969 - 2008
6 October - 20 December 2008
Awarded a CBE for his contribution to British Art in 1999, Craigie Aitchison is one of the UK’s most celebrated painters, and a Royal Academician. His work is exhibited and collected widely in the UK and internationally, and in 2003 Craigie Aitchison was the subject of a major retrospective at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.
An artist with a unique vision, his paintings are characterised by the purity and intensity of their colours, and the simplicity and sparseness of their compositions. Aitchison’s subject matter encompasses the traditional genres of landscape, portraiture, still life and religious themes, but his art achieves a timeless and mysterious poetry of colour and atmosphere which is both unusual and unorthodox in contemporary British painting.
Born in Kincardie-on-Forth in 1926, Craigie Aitchison grew up in Dunbartonshire and on the Island of Arran. The son of a leading Scottish lawyer, Craigie Aitchison followed in his father’s footsteps, studying law at Edinburgh University (1944-46) and London’s Middle Temple (1948), before abandoning this career to enter the Slade School of Art in London (1952-54), where his fellow students included Euan Uglow, who remained a close friend until his death in 2000. In 1955 Aitchison travelled to Italy after he was awarded the British Council Italian Government Scholarship for painting, and there he was profoundly influenced by the clear Mediterranean light and the natural landscapes that were infused with the Biblical associations of Renaissance painting. The experience of working in Italy affirmed his love of rich, flatly-applied colour which remains his signature.
Best known as a painter, Craigie Aitchison has also produced silkscreen prints and hand-coloured etchings throughout his career, employing printmaking techniques which produce the same intensity of colour and form as oils on canvas. This exhibition is a complete retrospective of Aitchison’s output as a printmaker, beginning with his earliest prints from the 1960s which were printed at the Kelpra Studio with Bob Saich. Other important works include two screenprints made in 1989 to raise funds for charity projects: Yellow Bird for the Hospital for Nervous Diseases and Wayney Going to Heaven for the National Art Collection Fund.
Supported by - Arts Council England