Alan McGowan was born in 1964 in Glasgow and studied for his degree at Edinburgh College of Art since when he has been a practicing artist and tutor.
His paintings have featured at many exhibitions of contemporary figure art including; The Scottish Portrait Awards (2017), the BP Portrait exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Threadneedle Prize for Figurative Art, the Society of Portrait Sculptors exhibition and The Ruth Borchard self portrait exhibition.
In 2014 he was a semi-finalist in the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the year and his work is featured
in the international painting annual reviews INPA5, 6 & 7, published by Manifest in Cincinatti USA.
His works appear in the public collections of the Royal Scottish Academy, Stirling University and Art in Healthcare and he is winner of the Wood Award (Visual Arts Scotland), the Bowie award for painting (Paisley Institute) and the Powderhall Foundry award for sculpture.
He has exhibited widely throughout the UK and internationally in group shows in South Korea, Portugal, Finland, Italy, the Czech Republic and the USA, and recently featured in the exhibition “A Bit of Brit” at the Westbeth Gallery in New York.
Working always from life, his paintings explore the tension between the inherent elusiveness of the world and our attempts to hold on to it. Seeing language itself as a vehicle for these attempts the language of paint – colour, tone, runniness, translucency, opacity, line etc become a second subject in tandem with the model, a parallel terrain.
Alan also teaches figure drawing, painting and anatomy for artists and has taught at the Royal Academy in London, The National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh College of Art, Dundee University, The Museum of London, The Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin, Leith School of Art and the Royal Collection Gallery, Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh.
In 2012 he published a book of drawings “The Language of the Body” exploring the relationship between working in the life studio and the philosophical concerns of writers such as Michael de Montaigne and Proust which was named the best art book of 2012 by about.com website.
In 2017 he published "Unstill Life".