Steven Campbell was a Scottish artist who created complex and humorous paintings with roots in performance and installation art. Campbell graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 1982 and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the Pratt Institute in New York the same year. The artist rapidly gained recognition in America, and after a successful period abroad returned to Glasgow in 1987. He remained in Scotland for the rest of his career, developing his position as a link between Scottish artists of the previous generation, and the emerging artists of the 1990s.
Before studying at Glasgow School of Art Campbell was an engineer at the steelworks on the outskirts of Glasgow. After seven years at the steelworks he decided to pursue art. At Glasgow School of Art he was a contemporary of Ken Currie, Peter Howson and Adrian Wiszniewski. Although not a close-knit group, they were dubbed the ‘New Glasgow Boys’, a term Campbell disliked. They each became well known and contributed significantly to Scottish contemporary art, with a shared commitment to figurative painting.
During the 1980s Campbell’s work weaved a narrative of recurring figures in a somewhat surreal and disordered world. The stocky, tweed-clad male characters are philosophers, artists, and architects who navigate this puzzling, paradoxical world in search of meaning. These paintings do not offer any fixed interpretation, instead there are suggestions of historical and contemporary references and connections.