John Bellany - avant-garde painter

John Bellany  (18 June 1942 – 28 August 2013) was a Scottish painter.
Bellany was born in Port Seton. His father and grandfather were fishermen in Port Seton and Eyemouth near Edinburgh.
During the early 1960s, he studied at Edinburgh College of Art, here he met with other young Scottish artists to begin lifelong friendships and share ideals for a renaissance in Scottish arts. His contemporaries included Alan Bold and Alexander Moffat. Bellany and Moffat studied under Robin Phillipson. Their initial interest was in impressionism but with their common Scottish ancestry they looked toward Alan Davie as a connection to a greater but more accessible artistic world.
After his studies at Edinburgh, Bellany achieved a major travelling scholarship and traveled around Europe discovering how the traditions of the great northern European masters could be connected to his own Scottish experience. After this he would marry Helen Percy and move to attend the Royal College of Art in London.
In 1967 he was invited to a trip to East Germany. In Dresden he viewed Otto Dix's War triptych

 

 

 

In 1968 Bellany graduated and his diploma show was hailed as great success. Many of the paintings from this and the earlier periods are now in public institutions as well as various national galleries. After graduation, Bellany was offered a teaching position at the Edinburgh College of Art but he carried on as a working artist and flit between various teaching jobs at different art colleges.
He was elected to The London Group in 1973
When in 1974 he separated from his wife his art appears to take on a darker tone. The symbolism increases and it seems as though each picture can have a whole narrative of symbols within it, increasingly the pictures become wilder and wilder tending more to expressionism, at this point he suffered a nervous breakdown and returned to Port Seton for recuperation.

 


 


 

In 1986, he remarried his first wife Helen. The liver disease was becoming unmanageable and by the end of 1987 it was clear death was near.
In 1988 Bellany was operated on for a then relatively new liver transplant procedure, this also inspired works.Carried out at Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge by Sir Roy Calne, Bellany not only survived but started to paint within hours of the operation — first producing a portrait of the nurse caring for him, then going on to produce a set of pictures known as the Addenbrooke's series.
Bellany received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 1998
In 2003 Damien Hirst came out as an admirer of Bellany and bought several of his works as well as praising him as one of the major painters of the twentieth century.In 2005 he suffered a heart attack. He died in 2013.Wikipedia



 

 

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