DENISE FINDLAY PROFILE
Denise Findlay was born in 1973.
She was born into a family with an incredible artistic pedigree. Her mother was the Great Granddaughter of Francis Henry Newbery or Fra Newbery (1855 - 1946), who was married to the equally famous Glasgow Girl, Jessie Newbery (1864 - 1948), whose appliqué work gave rise to the rose motif identified with Charles Rennie Macintosh. Fra Newbery was the Director of the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) between 1885 and 1917. Under his leadership the school developed an international reputation and he was instrumental in fostering the Glasgow Boys, the flourishing Glasgow Style and the work of Charles Rennie Macintosh and his circle. Newbery was also central to the commissioning of Macintosh as the architect for the now famous School of Art building and was actively involved in its design.
Findlay's mother's artistic lineage was also augmented by family on her father's side who were also artists. Her life was steeped in art and her home had a Macintosh painting on the wall and several Fra Newbery paintings. The family also had some historically significant Jessie Newbery embroidery pieces and dress designs, which Denise has chosen to honour and incorporate into some of her paintings for this show.
In discussion, Denise acknowledges 'I suppose it's part of my family and probably where I get my innate ability from'.
As a young girl, Denise was always passionate about art and not much else. She was encouraged by her parents, a teacher at school and her attendance at Saturday morning classes at the Glasgow School of Art where she went on to study at in 1992, graduating in 1996.
Findlay entered art school with strong figurative drawing skills and was keen to learn how to paint. She studied alongside fellow student Ian Faulkner under the tutelage of Jimmy Robertson CBE RSW RGI RSA PAI and Barbara Rae RA. Rae, in particular singled out and admired Findlay's incredible ability to handle light. During her development, Denise embraced figurative realism and in particular the American realist Andrew Wyeth and the Chilean hyperrealist Claudio Bravo. Closer to home she has always been inspired by the figurative studies of Scottish artist Alexandra (Sandie) Gardner.
Where she was initially obsessed with detail, her recent work has become much lighter and looser. She puts this down to changes in her personal circumstances. ‘The female figure tends to be dominant in my work - most of the time she must be representing me. Things have been changing in my life and it is definitely to do with that, which I suppose is good because it means my work is true to me - maybe I'm taking control back.' Denise also suggests that she paints woman because she can relate to them and can understand their point of view. Perhaps unconsciously she is also portraying a femininity in her subjects, which might explain why her paintings also, so readily appeal to men.
Findlay is rapidly becoming one of the most influential contemporary figurative painters of our time. She works with a contemporary colour palette with stunning, almost abstract markings. Denise's work is pleasing and powerful and cleverly narrates and intones the female perspective. Her work also implies that her characters, while beautiful and vulnerable are also very determined and can be strong and single-minded when they choose to be.
Denise has worked and worked over many years to develop her brilliant figurative skills. Behind her soft exterior you also get a sense of her determination and focus. She is an artist who is just getting better and better and what we have seen of her work in the past and in the present is only part of what will be a long and exciting artistic journey.
Findlay has a noble artistic pedigree and she now appears to be showing that she is prepared to use that pedigree to become one of the major players in her profession and of her generation.