Alasdair Gray: Selected Work: 1962 - 2018

6 - 23 April 2018

Alasdair Gray: Selected Work: 1962 - 2018

The Open Eye Gallery presents an exhibition of new and historic work by acclaimed Scottish artist, Alasdair Gray, mounted in association with curator Kevin Brown. 

Including portraits, life studies and figure sketches, the exhibition highlights the visionary outlook of Gray’s artistic practice. Whilst Gray is often thought of as a writer before an artist, his endeavours in literature and art have both arisen from a deep-felt need for self-expression. Described by novelist Will Self as a ‘creative polymath with an integrated politico-philosophical vision,’ Gray is a cultural icon in Scotland who has influenced literature, art and politics throughout the second half of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.

The exhibition focuses on Gray’s talent for draughtsmanship with a selection of line drawings. Gray draws with an enviable clarity of intent that results in precisely delineated forms undertaken in an inimitable style that carves out a concise path between representation and abstraction. In Portrait of Scott Pearson and Angela Gray’s talent as a portraitist is evidenced in his warm, empathetic handling of the couple’s portrait whilst paintings like Woman on a Peach Coverlet show his lifelong fascination with the human form and anatomical structure. The weightiness and grounded appearance of Gray’s figure studies emerge from an interest in the place of humankind in the universe and the connection between the earth and spiritual realm; themes which readily play out in his writings.

Born in 1934 in Riddrie, east Glasgow, Gray’s father worked in a factory and his mother in a shop. During the Second World War he was evacuated to Perthshire and then to Lanarkshire. Gray studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1952 to 1957 and then taught there from 1958 to 1962. He began working on his first novel, Lanark, whilst a student, although the mammoth four-part book was not published until 1981. Since Lanark, Gray has authored more than 40 titles, including further novels, plays and books of poetry. In 1977 to 1978 Gray worked for the People’s Palace, Glasgow, as the city’s ‘artist recorder,’ a role that was funded through a job creation scheme set up by the Labour government of the time. During this period Gray produced hundreds of drawings of the city including portraits of politicians, artists, workers and members of the public. 

Having trained as a muralist, Gray has undertaken many important commissions in public locations included in the Ubiquitous Chip restaurant and Hillhead subway station, both in Glasgow’s West End. His ceiling mural in the auditorium of the Oran Mor theatre on Byres Road, Glasgow, is one of the largest works of art in Scotland. He is currently working on illustrations for a new translation of Danté’s The Divine Comedy. Gray’s work is held in many public collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow; the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh; the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow; and the Arts Council of England collection.