My absolute favorite artist in the world is Jack Vettriano, which may seem a little cliche due to a few extremely well known and well exploited works of his. However, I feel unique in saying so because I’ve studied his work, I know his background, I can recognize his distinctive style from a mile away. I’ve no less than seven prints by Vettriano on display in my apartment (and about fifty more that I wish I had wall space for), not to mention the coffee table book on my, well, coffee table. The Singing Butler is probably his most famous work, which was interestingly enough part of his first London exhibition back in October 1992 called God’s Children:
Vettriano was born in Fife, Scotland in 1951. He sparked an interest in painting when a girlfriend gave him a set of watercolors on his 21st birthday, and spent the next nearly 20 years teaching himself how to paint.
In 1989, he submitted two paintings to the Royal Scottish Academy’s annual exhibition; both were accepted and sold on the first day. The following year, an equally enthusiastic reaction greeted the three paintings, which he entered for the prestigious Summer Exhibition at London’s Royal Academy and his new life as an artist began from that point on.
The next twenty years produced over 23 separate exhibitions, including those during his 13-year residence at London’s Portland Gallery, which produced such projects as The Passion and the Pain; Between Darkness and Dawn; Lovers and Other Strangers; Affairs of the Heart; and Love, Devotion, and Surrender.
I have a deep appreciation for Vettriano’s work mostly due his fascination with stylized 20s- and 30s-type settings and characters. I also love his use of rich, warm colors for his light, sentimental work, and cooler, occasionally faded colors for his darker, moodier pieces. Vettriano devotes his efforts to exploring specifically angles of the human body and how changing postures and profiles can portray emotion or circumstance, and more broadly, human interactions in general – half of his works feature two or more people and the other half seems to be clearly contemplating those not shown.
The thought and lyricism in the titles of his works is another effort that rings especially important to me (as a writer and general lover of language). The piece above is called Back Where You Belong. The piece below is Elegy for a Dead Admiral.
I find his work to convey both timelessness and elegance, his collection as a whole striking a delicate balance between the ethereal and the esoteric. The pieces both above and below are hanging in my dining room.
The next few pieces are Mad Dogs, The Temptress, Waltzers, and Sweet Bird of Youth, respectively.
A few other well recognized paintings are Bad Boy, Good Girl (1994), In Thoughts of You (1996), Dance Me to the End of Love (1998), and Cafe Days (1995). Below is Vettriano, now 58: