Scots artists’ work on display at modern art gallery

Alasdair Gray with his work Eden and After. Picture: Greg Macvean
Alasdair Gray with his work Eden and After. Picture: Greg Macvean
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PAINTINGS by some of Scotland’s best-known artists have gone on display alongside work by Picasso, Cezanne, Cesar, and Miro as part of a major showcase of new additions to the national modern art archives.

Visitors to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh will be able to see permanent new additions by Joan Eardley, John Bellany, Alan Davie and Alasdair Gray displayed together over the next few months.

Also included in the exhibition are two “Glasgow Style” masterpieces by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, wife of the celebrated architect Charles Rennie, and Frances MacNair, as well as The Boyle Family’s Tidal Series painting, which was on display at the gallery a decade ago.

More than 100 donations from artists, gifts from collectors and specific bequests to the gallery over the last two years have gone on display together until 1 March.

The exhibition focuses on certain bequests, like the Walton art collection, which was donated to the gallery by two long-time Edinburgh-based art enthusiasts Henry and Sula Walton, who gave the gallery more than two works, including the series of Picasso prints featured in the exhibition.

Gray, arguably Glasgow’s best-known living artist, is among several Scottish artists whose work has entered the permanent collection for the first time, with lessor known figures like fellow Glasgow artist Pat Douthwaite, Dunfermline painter Charles Pulsford and Leith-born Edwin Lucas among the others to feature in the exhibition.

Gallery officials say many of the works are going on public display for the first time or have only previously been on loan for a short period.

Simon Groom, director of the modern art gallery, said: “This display demonstrates the gallery’s commitment to building the most comprehensive collection of Scottish art since 1900.

“With works by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh at the beginning of the century to Alex Dordoy, a recent graduate of Glasgow School of Art, the display also includes historic works by artists not previously represented in the collection to give a broader vision of the richness and diversity of art in Scotland.”

Patrick Elliott, chief curator at the gallery, added: “I’d think people will really only have seen three or four of the works in the exhibition before, such as The Boyle Family work, and the Bellany and Gray paintings.

“About 80 per cent of the works in the exhibition are gifts and bequests. Most work is actually given the families of artists after they have passed away, rather than the artists themselves.

“Many of them just weren’t in the gallery’s collection before, such as Charles Pulsford, so the objective has been to enrich our collection with new names.

“No-one had really heard of Edwin Lucas until a few years ago, who was actually a civil servant. We got a call when we were doing a surrealism show from a relative asking us to come and have a look at his work.

“We ended up in his lock-up garage just outside Edinburgh. It was like a treasure chest of paintings from the 1930s and 1940s.”