Craigie Aitchison Signed Prints & Originals

Biography for Craigie Aitchison (1926-2009)

Craigie Aitchison was born to make paintings with a style, edge and beauty unutterably their own. His genuine and piquant individualism, the very reverse of primitive. Craigie Aitchison exceptionally sophisticated pictorial intelligence distils magic from the everyday. Craigie Aitchison's repertoire of shapes is faultlessly deployed across fields of high colour. Craigie Aitchison painted still-life; Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Still Life with Bird Vase'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Thistle Still Life'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Still Life on Vermillion'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Tulips in a glass vase'. Craigie Atchison, print, signed 'Flowers in a Vase'. Landscapes; Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Canaries in a Tree'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Birds in a Tree'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Cypress Trees at Oppadette. Black people; Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Portrait of Michael Mohammed'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Portrait of Nelson Woo'. And religious pictures; Craigie Atchison, print, signed 'Small Crucifixion'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Crucifixion and Dog'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Crucifixion and Mountain'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Crucifixion and Green Hill'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Priest and Dog'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'One of the Wise Men'.

John Ronald Craigie Aitchison was born in Edinburgh on January 13 1926, the son of Craigie Mason Aitchison, KC, a brilliant lawyer and the first socialist Lord Advocate for Scotland. Craigie Aitchison's paternal grandfather was a minister in the United Free Church, the "Wee Frees", but Craigie Aitchison's father reacted against his single-track puritan upbringing and made a point of taking his family to churches of different denominations, from Baptist to Roman Catholic.

Not surprisingly, the experience left the young Craigie Aitchison unsure of his doctrinal allegiance, though he felt that, as a guide to human relations, the Bible remained the "most sensible" work of reference.

Spared military service thanks to a report from a Morningside medic ("they thought I was a loony"); Craigie Aitchison's first ambition was to follow in his father's footsteps. Craigie Aitchison spent four years training for the law, two in Edinburgh, followed by two at the Middle Temple in London. For much of this time he watched murder trials at the Old Bailey (he loved the theatricality), but found it increasingly difficult to concentrate on his law books and failed his exams.

In his spare time Craigie Aitchison had become a regular visitor to the Tate, where he would attempt to copy works of art. Keen to become more proficient, in 1952 Craigie Aitchison enrolled at the Slade, where he studied under William Coldstream and Robert Medley, along with Michael Andrews, Paula Rego, Myles Murphy and Euan Uglow, with whom he became lifelong friends.

In 1954 Craigie Aitchison was one of "Six Young Contemporaries" featured in an exhibition at Gimpel Fils Gallery, and the following year Craigie Aitchison was awarded a British Council Scholarship to study in Italy. His early palette was muted; Craig Atchison, print, signed 'Daffodils'. It was his visit to Italy which stimulated an interest in more vibrant hues.

Craigie Aitchison travelled there with Myles Murphy in an ancient London taxi, which had no reverse and had to be driven through the Alps in first gear. The vehicle finally expired outside Rome Central station, and the two students were helped by a Vatican cleric who put them up in the palace and eventually stored the taxi in the Vatican basement.

Craigie Aitchison was bowled over by the exuberance of the Catholic churches and the ravishing colours of the masters of the Quattrocento - Giotto, Masaccio and, above all, Piero della Francesca, whose frescoes in Arezzo remained his favorite paintings.

Before properly attempting the subject matter of Crucifixion Craigie Aitchison deliberately concentrated on still-life's; Craigie Atchison, print, signed 'Get Well Soon'. And landscapes; Craig Aitchison, print, signed 'Africa'. To help improve his technical knowledge and self confidence.

Although the seminal experience of Italy was quick to surface in Craigie Atchison's landscape paintings, his preferred was always to paint his surroundings rather than work from memory or imagination; Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Sheep at Tulliallan'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Birds'.

In 1970 Craigie Aitchison returned to Arran for the first time since his childhood to scatter his mother's ashes where his fathers had been scattered thirty years earlier. 'The Island' was painted as response to that experience, and depicts an empty but impassioned landscape, subtly modulated with velvety dark purples. Out of this impassioned landscape arise a single telegraph pole (with its striking similarity to a cross) and a peerless blue sea, lies an enhaloes vision of Holy Island. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Holy Island'. In 1990 Craigie Aitchison's brother Raymund retired to Lamlash, and Craigie Aitchison continued to visit him there until Raymund's tragic death in a fire. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Goatfell Isle of Arran'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Sheep in the Moonlight'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Ram'. These images are packed with full - throated Mediterranean colour.

Craigie Aitchison's take on the crucifixion is very different to the contemporary interpretations of Francis Bacon and Graham Sutherland. Craigie Aitchison's is a vision of serenity, an object for positive contemplation. The work is suffused with an astringent gentleness, the reverse of sentimentality; Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Crucifixion'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Pink Crucifixion'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Indian Crucifixion'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Crucifixion and Mountain'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Dolphin'.

Against Craigie Aitchison's powerful reds, bold saffron yellows, jelly-bright greens, deep black blues and blancmange pinks, Craigie Aitchison's abbreviated and delicately-drawn Bedlington terriers, single flowers, fragile birds or crucified Christs looked almost marginalised - symbols of spiritual isolation which packed a surprisingly powerful emotional punch; Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Yellow Bird on a Bell'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Donkey Candle Stick'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Still Life'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Still Life with Birds and Berries'.

At first glance Craigie Aitchison's paintings could appear childlike; Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Lamb in a Green Field'. But it was precisely that quality of innocent spontaneity that admirers so liked in him - as seen, for example in; Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Wayney'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Sugar Wearing Hat'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Beddlington Terrier'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Wayney and the Pink Tree'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Untitled'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Dusty in a Green Coat'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Candy Dead'. All depicting his beloved Beddlington Terrier.

By the beginning of the new century Craig Aitchison was a regular visitor to Italy and had taken to painting his surroundings; Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Tree and Poppy Montecastelli'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Cypress Tree Montecastelli'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Washing Line Montecastelli'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Garden in Moonlight'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Montecastelli Tree'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Cypress Trees at Oppadette'. Craigie Aitchison, print, signed 'Donkey'.

In person, Craigie Aitchison exemplified precisely the same innocent qualities as his paintings. A gentle and whiskery man with a halo of snowy hair and a look of permanent astonishment, Craigie Aitchison was engagingly other-worldly and blissfully ignorant of contemporary culture.

When Craigie Aitchison was informed by a friend that one of his paintings had been bought by no less a figure than Sir Elton John, Craigie Aitchison had to ask who this person might be. The Royal Academy held a major and well-attended retrospective of Craigie Aitchison's works in 2003.

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