Peter Howson unveils apocalypic vision in New York exhibition

Peter Howson will display his new show, Prophesy, portraying the world as it is now, and as it could be in the future. Picture: SWNS

Peter Howson will display his new show, Prophesy, portraying the world as it is now, and as it could be in the future. Picture: SWNS

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Celebrated artist Peter Howson has revealed his apocalyptic new vision for a major show in New York.

The Scottish painter, famous for his muscular and frequently religious artwork, is set to showcase a series of large and turbulent canvasses for the show at the Flowers Gallery in the Big Apple next year.

I think we are living through the most dangerous times that we have lived for a long time. I don’t know whether people realise that

Peter Howson

He has chosen to entitle the show Prophecy – the same name as one of the major pieces contained in the exhibition which he is currently working on in his Scottish studio.

Howson said his latest offerings have represented his feelings of distress about the direction in which he feels the world is heading.

The artist, who said he is well physically after recent bouts of bad health, said he thinks the state of the world will deteriorate before it improves.

He said: “I think we are living through the most dangerous times that we have lived for a long time.

“I don’t know whether people realise that – I think they do, but they are confused as to what is causing it.”

Howson said he considered the future would hold “mainly bad things, but good as well”.

He said: “At the end of the day, I think it has got to be bad before it is good, a complete turnaround in the world order.”

The 58-year-old began preparing the exhibition several months ago and told how he is working on the “first major oil”.

He added: “I am also working on 12 panels at home, which doesn’t seem like a lot and they are very small but they are taking me a long time.

“There will be drawings and a few pastels as well. It is a theme, an apocalyptic theme, I am just going for it.

“The whole idea is the world as it is now, and as it could be. It’s a prophetic type show, I am into prophecy at the moment.”

Howson is creating 50 pieces for the show, his first in eight years in New York.

They include four large paintings, measuring eight feet by six feet, and several works on panel.

Howson has enjoyed a remarkable career and was the official British war artist in the 1993 Bosnian civil war.

The painter grew up in Prestwick, Ayrshire, and attended the Glasgow School of Art, and his works have, over the years, focused on muscular or looming male figures, war and Christian themes.

Howson was awarded the OBE in 2009 but in 2014 said he was giving up the title as he did not want to be part of the “British Empire” and the UK involvement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Of the new works on panel, unusual for Howson, he said: “They are difficult. They are taking ages. They are quite dark. This will be the biggest show in New York since eight years ago.”

Howson said he has been shielding himself from modern technology while he prepares for Prophecy with no access to computer, e-mail or mobile phone.

The artist said that the rise of Islamic State, the war in Syria, Donald Trump and other contemporary issues had inspired his recent works.

His current large canvas shows a crucified Jesus figure amid a mob of people in a stormy landscape. His new works on panel display equally complex crowds of people.

He said: “The world is very strange at the moment – because of mobile phones and the internet, everyone can see the wars.”

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