David Wilson’s Paintings

Born in Scotland in 1953, David Wilson is known for his non-representational, yet familiar, landscapes. He uses a range of mediums to layer meaning into his work, which contends with history, half-remembered dreams, and the natural world. Wilson is celebrated for his evocative paintings that challenge viewers to consider the nuances beneath the surface of his work. 

Wilson credits his drive to become a painter to the artists in his family. Alexander Stewart, his great-grandfather, ran away from home and worked as an itinerant house painter before attending the Edinburgh School of Art. His grandfather, Ian Stewart, worked as an artist and etcher and was one of the founders of Scottish Studios and Engravers. This layered history extends into Wilson’s work today: Critic Richard Martin writes that “Wilson’s paintings have a like quality of seeming resemblance, of suggesting places of sites seen, and yet never being quite capable of being pinned down geographically. But they are enthralling, for we are certain that we have seen them before and that the invention of the artist is as familiar as a personal recollection or a family album.” 

Wilson attended life drawing classes at Glasgow School of Art before enrolling at St. Martin’s School of Art in London, studying with Gillian Ayres and John Hoyland. A teaching assistantship allowed him to continue his studies at the School of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University, where he earned his MFA.

Influences on Wilson include illuminated manuscripts, Mughal painting, and the all-seeing eye of Surrealism. The work of painters William Blake, Casper David Friedrich, Max Ernst, and Marsden Hartley inform his work, as well as the memories of his native Scotland and the landscape of his current home along the craggy coast of Maine. For the past thirty years, Wilson primarily worked on small pieces—paintings not much larger than postcards—though his latest pieces have grown considerably in scale, perhaps to encompass the expansive Maine landscape.

Wilson’s work has been featured in shows across the country and abroad, including solo exhibitions at Art City, Stux Gallery, Paula Allen Gallery, and Zabriskie Gallery in New York City, the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum in California, and many galleries in Maine. Wilson has also worked on mural painting, theatre design, and public art projects in New York and Maine. He is now living in North Haven, Maine, where he paints and runs Hopkins Wharf Gallery with his partner, David Hopkins.