English painter. He studied at Glasgow School of Art (1975–7 and 1979–81) and was one of the central figures in the school of Scottish figurative painting that rose to prominence in the 1980s. His large-format paintings typically show massive, predominantly male figures, drawn with muscular brushstrokes, illustrating a harsh and unredemptive view of the modern world. This bleak view was developed in several subsequent series, Howson's work as the official British War Artist in Bosnia, involving visits there in 1993, provided him with a highly charged subject-matter that gave new ethical direction and motivation to his work. Among the paintings derived from this experience was Croatian and Muslim (oil on canvas, 2.13×1.53 m, 1994; D. Bowie priv. col., see Jackson, p. 72), showing two men raping a woman while pushing her head into a lavatory. This and other images of sexual violence and brutality aroused strong controversy concerning the role of the war artist. In 1998 he made a portfolio of 50 etchings, Undergound (see 1998 exh. cat., p. 5), that demonstrated his continuing interest in allegorical portraiture and the translation of his concerns to the South of England after he settled in London in 1994. He was awarded the Henry Moore Foundation Prize in 1988, the Lord Provost's Medal, Glasgow, in 1995, and the following year was made Doctor of Letters, Honoras Causa, by the University of Strathclyde.
Peter Howson (exh. cat., essay D. Kuspitt, London, Flowers E., 1989)
Peter Howson: Blind Leading the Blind (exh. cat., London, Flowers E., 1991)
Peter Howson: Bosnia (exh. cat., essays R. Crampton and R. Cork, London, Imp. War Mus., 1994)
A. Jackson: A Different Man: Peter Howson's Art, from Bosnia and Beyond (Edinburgh, 1997)
Peter Howson (exh. cat., London, Flowers E., 1998)
10 December 2000