Artist Interview: Adrian Wiszniewski

  • Stella Calvert-Smith
  • Marie Léda
  • Alan Firmin
  • Aretha Campbell
Bridgeman Copyright speaks to Glasgow born artist Adrian Wiazniewski RSA, HonFRIAS, HRSW. 

Adrian Wiszniewski (b.1958) creates work characterised by a strong drawing element and a fertile imagination. Populated with contemplative figures set in vividly coloured Arcadian landscapes, his paintings are rich with symbolic, political and philosophical elements.
Adrian Wiszniewski was born in Glasgow in 1958 and trained at Glasgow School of Art from 1979 to 1983. He was a leading figure in the revival of figurative painting in a group known as the New Glasgow Boys. His work can be found in many international collections such as the Gallery of Modern Art in New York, Metropolitan Museum, New York, Setagaya Museum, Tokyo, Japan, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Tate Britain, London and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Wiszniewski has had solo exhibitions in London, Sydney, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ghent and Tokyo.

1. What is your earliest memory of an artwork and who was it by?
As a child I was aware of the  many ways of collecting and savouring images. My mother worked at a Glasgow Picture House and would furnish the childrens bedroom walls with film posters advertising Thunderball, The Battle of the Bulge etc. These were dramatic  in colour and composition and graphically avant garde.

Cards were similarly of great importance. These included images taken from Thunderbirds, Stingray etc which were televisual phenomena,but my favourite were a series of cards that were based on the bloody conflict of The American Civil War. In complete contrast, I loved the scraps that my sister collected.

These were images of great variety in content and scale which were irregular in shape in that they followed the outer edge of the subject matter. It was here that I first encountered 'proper' art in the form of a set of beautiful cherubs/angels that I later discovered were taken from paintings by Raphael.

2. Where did you study?
I first studied Architecture at the Mackintosh School of Architecture part of the Glasgow School of Art, between the ages of 17 and 21. I became fascinated by the work that my friends were doing in the other departments and so decided to put architecture on the back-burner and moved over to the Fine Art department for the next 4 years.
3. What is your favourite time of day to be in your studio?
The easiest time to work is at night when distractions are low and guilt is high.

4. You are know as one of the 'New Glasgow Boys', leading a revival of figurative painting, how did that come about?
In Glasgow in the mid-80s expectations were low but ambitions were high. Direct flights from Glasgow to Europe and New York became available and affordable.The World opened up and suddenly within grasp for those unable or unwilling to follow the traditional channels. It also meant that people of influence would fly into Glasgow and tap into the energy there.

Glasgow was as it remains on the international cultural map. The New Glasgow Boys was a tag that was put on a small group of us who knew each other but worked in different ways with differing subject matter and intentions.There was however an underlying appreciation of art history and its socio-political content. Painting seemed the best vehicle for communicating the subtleties and complexities from an individualistic standpoint looking out onto a new post-modernist world.
5. You work with the Glasgow Print Studio, how do you find your print works relate to your paintings?
My admiration for those who work in all forms of communication has never dwindled. I love learning new ways of making art. There is such a strong bond between what one says and how one says it. Printmaking has opened up a multiplicity of techniques and processes that have allowed me to say things that are best served through that medium.

It also allows for a more collaborative approach with the master printmakers at the Glasgow Print Studio. Rubbing shoulders with craftsfolk who are also practicing artists leads to discussions and decisions that helps one develop ones visual language. The relative affordability of prints also increases the accessibility of art and this in itself makes it important.

6. If you could pick 5 artists, dead or alive, to have dinner with, who would they be and why? William Blake, Liubov Popova, Ando Hiroshige, Cindy Sherman and Donatello.That would be one great dinner party. These are among my favourite artists and each brings so much to the feast. Poetry, printmaking, textiles, painting, photography and sculpture all to be discussed, taken apart and put back together again. Mysticism, Politics, the power of nature, the roles that each of us play and how to articulate with humanity and sensitivity.
Adrian's next solo show will be at The Open Eye Gallery in Edinburgh in February 2019.
Adrian's work is also available to buy on Bridgeman Editions
Adrian Wiszniewski's website