Alasdair Gray Exhibition

By Nicola McFadyen


I visited the Alasdair Gray exhibition at Kelvingrove Art Gallery, having long been a fan of his since reading my Dad’s copy of Lanark as a young teenager, tempted in by the intricate and fascinating illustrations on the front cover. Despite this, I actually knew very little of his actual artwork, and visited the exhibition in an attempt to rectify this. The exhibition takes up the full lower space of the art gallery, and is well worth the entry fee (£3 if, like me, you’re a student) as it contains nearly all of his most famous works, and also includes a map that you can use to find his local murals once you’ve finished.

Gray’s work is intricate and unusual- he often uses strange combinations of materials, including using brown paper as a skin tone and simply drawing or painting on top of it, as well as often doing full drawings using simply a red biro, a style which actually works incredibly well. It also explores the close relations he had with a famous poet, who crops up frequently in many of his works. He is a master of painting the female form also, with many works showing naked bodies in different positions, one of which is so graphic it is difficult to look directly at for too long without feeling the urge to avert your gaze and offer the poor girl a dressing gown.

The exhibition is an incredible journey through the life of the artist, and it was really interesting to see his perception of different areas of Glasgow, including one of his most famous works, the Cowcaddens streetscape, as well as many different parts of the East End of the city, including several works based around Arcadia Street and the surrounding areas. The exhibition is extensive and fascinating, and the map provided to locate his nearby murals (including the mural in the newly refurbished Hillhead subway station and the illustrations inside the Ubiquitous Chip on Ashton Lane) also added a lovely touch, making it an exhibition I would happily revisit again and again, if simply to drink in the sheer talent and wonder of the works of Alasdair Gray.}