Jack Vettriano will present first unseen oil paintings in a new exhibition of works
Previously unseen paintings by Jack Vettriano will feature in an exhibition at the gallery where he sought inspiration as a young artist.
The exhibition at the Kirkcaldy Galleries in Fife will include 12 oil paintings he produced in his early twenties and thirties, signed with his birth name, Jack Hoggan.
The works, painted before he achieved international success in the 1990s, will be displayed alongside pieces that sold for five- and six-figure sums.
It will be the 70-year-old artist’s first retrospective since a major exhibition at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in 2013 and the first to focus on his formative years and early career.
Although widely panned by critics, Jack Vettriano has sold his paintings for hundreds of thousands of pounds and has an estimated net worth of £3.6million. Pictured: Sweet Bird of Youth by Vettriano, who has already been seen
Vettriano, left school at 15 to become a mining engineer but took up painting after a girlfriend gave him a box of watercolors for his 21st birthday. Pictured: The Billy Boys by Vettriano, whose prints sell for hundreds of pounds
Self Portrait, a 2002 painting by Jack Vettriano which will feature in an exhibition which will include previously unseen works, unlike this one, at the Kirkcaldy Galleries in Fife, where he sought inspiration as a young artist
Vettriano, from Fife, left school at 15 to become a mining engineer but took up painting after a girlfriend gave him a box of watercolors for his 21st birthday.
The artist learned by copying Old Masters, Impressionists and Scottish artists and was inspired by works he saw in the Kirkcaldy Galleries, run by cultural charity OnFife.
He said: “I grew up admiring the work of so many great Scottish painters in what was then my local gallery.
Jack Vettriano (pictured) was once called ‘not a 21st-century Van Gogh’, but rather ‘the Tom Jones of art: tall, bold, brassy and devoid of inner truth’.
Vettriano’s most famous painting, The Singing Butler, featuring a couple dancing on a beach despite an approaching storm, sold for almost £750,000 at auction in 2004
“Kirkcaldy has a large permanent collection and a free entry policy, so I have the galleries to thank for the start of my art education.”
The artist later adopted his mother’s maiden name to mark a break with the works sold under his surname Hoggan.
The new exhibition opens in June and will include one of two paintings Vettriano presented at the Royal Scottish Academy’s annual exhibition in 1988.
Sculptor David Mach spoke in support of Vettriano, saying in The Scotsman: “If he was a fashion designer, Jack would be up there.” Pictured: Vettriano’s painting Mad Dogs. Images of the 12 previously unseen paintings featured in his exhibition have yet to be released.
Mr Mach added: ‘It’s just snobbery in the art world. Anyway, whatever, he probably makes more money than Damien Hirst anyway. Pictured: Vettriano at his home in Battersea, London
Both paintings sold on the first day, a turning point that inspired him to become a full-time artist.
Among the 57 private loans will be pieces such as Billy Boys, Valentine Rose and Bluebird in Bonneville, while two works from OnFife’s collection, including a self-portrait, will also feature.
Alice Pearson, OnFife Exhibitions Curator, said: “This is the first time that Jack has agreed to exhibit painted works simply as a hobby alongside later pieces which have won sold-out shows in London and New York.
Painter Jack Vettriano, whose work has been branded ‘dim erotica’ but sells for hundreds of thousands of pounds, has slammed the art establishment for snubbing his work
“The exhibit will highlight the diversity of subjects and styles Jack tackled while learning his craft, giving him the confidence and technical ability to develop his own identifiable style.”
Also included will be Long Time Gone, which takes place against the backdrop of the now demolished Methil Power Station, a once familiar landmark of Fife.
The exhibition, which covers the artist’s career up to 2000, was originally scheduled for 2019 but has been postponed twice due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Who is Jack Vettriano and why do critics hate his work?
Despite his immense popularity with the public, Jack Vettriano was often the recipient of more negative comments from art critics and was once described as “the Jeffrey Archer of the art world”.
Over the years, his work has been described as twee and chauvinistic, with his more erotic material considered “pornography”.
However, his work has sold for thousands, and he is believed to be Britain’s most reproduced artist – making thousands of versions of his paintings. His net worth is estimated at £3.6million.
Scottish art historian Duncan Macmillan once said of Vittriano: “He is welcome to paint as long as no one takes him seriously”.
The Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones said: “Jack Vettriano is not a 21st century Van Gogh. he is the Tom Jones of art: tall, bold, brassy and devoid of inner truth.
Jones added: “Jack Vettriano’s world is a crude male fantasy that could have come straight out of Martin Amis’ Money.”
Sandy Moffat, head of drawing and painting at the Glasgow School of Art, said: ‘He can’t paint, he just colours’, while Richard Calvocoressi, former director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, said: “I would be more than happy to say that we regard him as an indifferent painter and very low on our list of priorities (whether or not we can afford his work, which we obviously cannot not for the moment).
“His ‘popularity’ is based on cheap commercial reproductions of his paintings.”
Vittriano claimed that Van Gogh and Monet would have been in favor of selling reproductions.
Alice Jones wrote in The Independent that in Vettriano’s paintings, “women are sex objects, often half-naked and vulnerable, always in stockings and stilettos”.
Yet sculptor David Mach spoke out in favor of Vettriano, saying in The Scotsman: “If he was a fashion designer, Jack would be up there.
“It’s just snobbery in the art world. Anyway, whatever, he probably makes more money than Damien Hirst anyway.