Painter Vettriano turns to ink for latest work

HE IS best known for his portraits of seductive women and sharp-suited men, but Jack Vettriano appears to have found a new artistic subject: tattoos.

Vettriano, who is Scotland's bestselling artist, has exclusively unveiled his latest painting of tattooist Mo Coppoletta, and revealed that the experience inspired him to get a tattoo himself.

The unusual painting will be one of the first to be exhibited at Heartbreak, a new London gallery and shop owned by Heartbreak Publishing, which itself is co-owned by Vettriano.

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Heartbreak, which opens next month, has three floors of gallery space and will exhibit works by the Fife artist and others including painter Anne Magill and photographer Fredi Marcarini.

It will be the first Vettriano painting to be exhibited in London in more than three years after the Portland Gallery, which represented the artist for more than a decade, severed its ties with Vettriano in 2007.

"I've always been attracted to the retro appeal of tattoos," Vettriano told Scotland on Sunday. "To me there's something so romantic about the commitment a person makes in having the name of a loved one, a place or even an idea inscribed, forever, on their bodies. We literally wear our hearts on our sleeves."

Vettriano's painting, The Master Tattooist, will form part of an exhibition called The Family Business, a series of photographs by Marcarini documenting the work of the London tattoo artist Mo Coppoletta and his tattoo parlour in Exmouth Market. The 58-year-old Vettriano was so impressed by Coppoletta's designs during a visit that he decided to get a tattoo.

"A tattoo is a poetic and artistic creation, and a truly great tattoo can only be created by a true artist," Vettriano said. "It was a great privilege for me to have mine created by Mo Coppoletta, who is first of all an artist and then a master tattooist."

Vettriano's tattoo is a traditional design of a heart surrounded by flowers. He was later photographed by Marcarini at work in his studio with the tattoo on his arm, in another image which will form part of the exhibition.

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