Jack Vettriano vows to keep himself in the frame

Jack Vettriano with his 'sexually charged' painting For My Lover. Picture: Hemedia
Jack Vettriano with his 'sexually charged' painting For My Lover. Picture: Hemedia
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Jack Vettriano has vowed he will never stop imagining himself in his paintings, declaring: “I don’t want any other men in my territory.”

Many of the voyeuristic males in his work famously look like the controversial artist and he said he was reluctant to stop picturing himself in the glamorous, fantasy roles, despite turning 63.

The self-taught painter has deliberately avoided introducing any other man to the scenes as he feels it creates a “tension” in his work.

Vettriano was offering a rare intimate insight into his work at the unveiling of one of the most important collections of his art which has ever come up for sale.

The 12 paintings, which cover all the major periods in his colourful career, feature some of his most intense, erotic works, as well as some classic Vettriano imagery of stylish characters and wind-swept beaches.

He spoke about how the music of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and even 1980s chart-toppers Spandau Ballet had influenced him, how he has used painting as a means of “escape” and still sees himself as a dreamer.

Fife-born Vettriano, who described the inspiration for each painting, said the collection, which is expected to generate as much as £1.2 million when it comes under the hammer next week, represented some of his best ever work.

They are coming up for sale just over a year after Vettriano broke the attendance record at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, with his biggest ever retrospective.

He first came to prominence more than 25 years ago when he had two paintings accepted for the annual exhibition of the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh – and sold both on the first day. His best-known work, The Singing Butler, sold at Sotheby’s for almost £750,000 in 2004.

Experts at Bonhams, which is selling the paintings on behalf of an anonymous private collector next week, said they represent “one of the most comprehensive collections of Vettriano’s work ever assembled.”

Highlights of the exhibition include The Missing Man, valued at up to £150,000, which Vettriano revealed was meant to depict three students looking out to sea in search of a friend in the wake of their graduation celebrations the previous evening.

“This is me at my best. I think it’s up there as one of my best paintings,” he said. “It would be in my top ten. I love the clarity of it, the black against the pale, pale sky. It’s perfectly balanced.”

Vettriano said many people thought the glamorous couple depicted on a beach in The Road To Nowhere, which could fetch up to £200,000, were meant to be Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley.

He said: “It is really just about a couple kind of escaping. I’ve always had that in my psyche, it’s a need to drift. I think I picked it up from Bob Dylan, I heard him when I was too young.”
 Among the male figures who look most like Vettriano is the main character wearing dark glasses in The Truth Discovered, which is valued at up to £60,000.

He explained: “He’s come into the cafe unexpectedly and has seen the love of his life with someone else.”

Asked about why he saw himself in so much of his work, he said: “It’s a job that I’m reluctant to give up.”

He added: “I don’t want any other men in my territory. I think it’s because I know exactly what position I want to be in.

“I don’t really want two people there. Because I am self-taught and not used to working with other people, I prefer just me and the model to be in the picture. Any more than that and I just feel a sort of tension. There was a critic who once said: ‘Jack Vettriano just does it to get off on it.’ I don’t. I do it because I am available and I am cheap.”

Vettriano said of For My Lover, one of the most sexually-charged paintings coming up for sale: “I love the idea of the ritual that we go through before we go on a date, or used to go through it before I went on a date. I don’t go on dates anymore. She’s had a bath, she’s painting her nails and is wearing the red that he likes.”

Of Do You Still Dream?, a painting of a lone well-dressed woman staring out of a window, he said: “Where would we be if none of us had a dream? You’ve got to have a dream in life to go on or why would you get out your bed?”

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