The mysterious, evocative works of John Maxwell are among the most original and individual to be found in 20th Century Scottish Art. John Maxwell studied under Leger and Ozenfant. Although he absorbed the teaching of Cubism, it was to Symbolism that he turned for inspiration, in particular to the French artist, Odilon Redon, and the lyrical, dream like pictures of the Russian born artist Marc Chagall.
Maxwell's approach to his work was intuitive and highly inventive. With his great love of music and poetry, he tended to look inwards to the world of dreams and imagination. A perfectionist by nature, he was extremely self critical and destroyed so many of his own pictures that only about 200 works in total, oils, watercolours and drawings, now remain.
Maxwell's oil paintings are characterized by thickly applied pigment which he often put on with a palette knife to build up a heavy impasto, working slowly and often scraping out and reworking certain areas, yet always marrying the sensuous charm of the medium to the very essence of his own vision. Moreover, his use of rich colour draws on the Scottish Colourist tradition. All these qualities are wonderfully demonstrated in Circus Pony, which, as with most of his oeuvre, transports the viewer to a far continent at once familiar and strange, enchanting and poignant.