Analysis: 'Self portraits are traditionally very revealing'

Share this article

From the point of view of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Jack Vettriano is a figure we have wanted on our wall for a while for obvious reasons. He is an incredibly well known successful and celebrated Scot. I suppose he is the most famous living Scottish artist.

It's on offer to us on long-term loan from a private owner, so in a sense this is a good coincidence that we have been offered this painting shortly before the portrait gallery reopens in November.

If you look back to all of that rather acrimonious, media influenced debate, perhaps it is a milestone. We will have a Vettriano on our walls, and importantly for us, it's a Vettriano of Vettriano. It will go in our contemporary gallery on the ground floor along with one or two other portraits.

It seems most appropriate for him to do himself. We have got lots of other self-portraits, it's quite a usual thing to do. There are different kinds of insights, if an artist paints him or herself. Self portraits are traditionally very revealing and interesting.

He is a self-taught painter, and he is able to create the stories and the narratives on the canvas that he wants to do.

As an image it is appealing. Although its a self-portrait and recognisably Vettriano, the subject matter is very Vettriano-esque. It's a narrative painting, it looks as if there's a story behind it.

• Nicola Kalinsky is deputy director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Back to the top of the page