You may not know his name; but, chances are, you have seen his work. Jack Vettriano is a self-taught, Scottish artist whose popular images appear on posters, mugs and umbrellas. Prints of his work outsell Van Gogh, Dali and Monet.
Sometimes his work is nostalgic and romantic; sometimes it’s mysterious and erotic with a threatening edge of violence about to erupt. He describes his paintings as akin to pulp fiction novel covers. Indeed, there appears to be a story about to leap to life from the images he creates.
Flawed relationships – including his own failed marriage – were a big source of inspiration when he was developing a personal style. The glamour and gracious living of bygone eras also infuse his art: “A perfect world I would like to have lived in, but didn’t”.
“Broadly speaking, the art establishment disdains him as populist and unchallenging, and British galleries consistently refuse to acquire any of his works for exhibition,” says Anthony Quinn. He is the author of a new edition of a book on the artist that includes work from exhibitions between 2006 and 2010. The work and commentaries are presented by date and themes.
Vettriano's art is accessible and invites the viewer to invent the story. When you do, you will be in good company. His work is embedded in the story line in Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.
Vettriano’s success and enduring popularity have slowly brought acclaim and an OBE. He is “the people’s painter”.