Ian Howard

RSA Born: 1952

Ian Howard specialises in painting, drawing and printmaking. He is an Academician of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture and an Emeritus Professor of the University of Edinburgh. He was formerly Dean of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, University of Dundee; a member of the Faculty of the British School at Rome; and the former Principal of Edinburgh College of Art.

His particular research interests include: art and science, alchemical symbolism, hermeticism, emblems, and medieval and renaissance iconography. He lives and works in France.

“Howard’s work characteristically involves the intuitive interweaving of figurative, abstract and symbolic forms and is inspired by Renaissance and Early Modern imagery of an arcane nature. Such imagery reached the height of its complexity in seventeenth century illustrations to treatises on alchemy, such as those by Heinrich Khunrath (1527-1604) and John Dee (1527-1608). These illustrations often provided labyrinthine allegories of spiritual transformation, or even hieroglyphic stimulants to revelation, as much as they provided practical instructions for changing base metals into gold. Howard is partly attracted to the enigma of alchemical imagery for its own sake, and the subject of his work is likewise less revealed through straightforward depiction than experienced in the exploration of visual connections. He deconstructs, reconstructs and repeats forms so as to amplify, dissolve and extend their hieroglyphic ‘references’. Through this process and through the notion of physical art as alchemy, Howard relates magical symbolism to modernist practices.”

— Notes from Sorcery, Victoria and Albert Museum Collection.