Alasdair Gray Exhibition Catalogue
In 2012 Theo Tait wrote of Alasdair Gray, in the Guardian:
‘The novelist, playwright, poet, muralist, illustrator, pamphleteer and literary historian Alasdair Gray has been called all sorts of things: the 20th century’s William Blake, Glasgow’s Piranesi, “the greatest Scottish novelist since Walter Scott” (by Anthony Burgess), “a creative polymath with an integrated politico-philosophic vision” (by Will Self), a glorious one-man band, [and] the dirty old man of Scottish letters.’
Will Self also once referred to Alasdair as the ‘little grey deity’.
Alasdair’s self-illustrated, tour de force novels, plays, poetry and short story collections now number more than 50 titles and have been translated into 17 languages, including Polish, Serbo-Croatian and Turkish. He spent 30 years writing his debut novel, Lanark, first published in 1981. Set in his home city of Glasgow, the book combines realism and dystopian surrealism to extraordinary effect. Now a cult classic, it was described by the Guardian in 2008 as a ‘landmark of 20th-century fiction.’
Alasdair’s virtuoso paintings, drawings and prints have been acquired over the years by various public collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Kelvingrove Gallery, the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and the National Library of Scotland. His art was celebrated in 2015 with a major retrospective exhibition at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove; and in 2014 the BBC aired a one hour documentary to honour the 80th year of this ‘giant of Scottish arts’.
A legendary muralist, Alasdair’s painted decorations at the Oran Mor venue in Glasgow transformed a ca. 1840s, stone built Presbyterian kirk into what has been described as the ‘Sistine Chapel of the 21st century’. The largest public artwork in Scotland, the Oran Mor murals uncannily resurrect the spirit of William Blake, but on a gigantic scale.
When offered a knighthood during the government of Gordon Brown, Alasdair turned it down, quipping, ‘because there was no money attached to it.’
Most of the works in this exhibition (but not all) have been published by Gray himself in his lush and beautiful 2012 catalogue raisonné, A Life in Pictures.