A nearly illiterate Glasgow Jew, Scottie Wilson (originally Louis Freeman) was born in 1888 and it took forty years to discover that he could draw. His creations of beautiful fish , trees and birds were accompanied by images of monsters that he called “Greedies” and “Evils”
After serving in the First World War, he lived in Toronto where he had a small junk shop. With his obsessive love of drawing, he spent most of his time doing it at the back.
He exhibited at the Toronto Art Galleries in 1941 and in Montreal and WInnipeg as well as Vancouver where he promoted his works himself before returning to Britain at the end of the Second World War. The remarkable “richness” of his compositions was achieved by the simplest of means “There is a unique tenderness in the play of Scottie’s pinks, blues, yellows and violets as they weave their way through the phantasmagoria of his dreams and nightmares, and there is never a hint of sentimentality or prettiness for its own sake” (George Melly)
He was a solitary man in his own world, refusing to acknowledge the art world around him; he is one of the most bizarre British artists of the century. He befriended Dubuffet in Paris and his pictures were collected by Picasso.
His one man exhibitions in Britain include Gimpel FIls in 1949,1950, 1951 1952 and 1975; Brook Street Gallery 1966, the Ben Uri Gallery in 1962 and 1971 ; Mayor Gallery 1980; The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh 1981 ; The Third Eye Centre GLasgow 1986. He showed extensively abroad in museums including Galerie Maeght, Paris 1947; Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris; The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa 1974; Hayward Gallery, London 1978 and 1979; The Georges Pompidou Centre , Paris in 1981 ; Artcurial, Paris in 1984.
Public collections that hold his works include:
The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Centre national d’art et de culture Georges Pompidou, France; Musee d’art moderne de la ville de Paris; collection de l’art brut, Lausanne.
In addition to these two outsider artists from the Boundary collection we are also reminded of the work of Peter Prendergast who had a more conventional art education but rose from humble beginnings to become a major force in British landscape painting.