Jack Vettriano: Early Years retrospective opens in Kirkcaldy after two-year wait

After a two-year delay, the doors to a major exhibition celebrating the work of artist Jack Vettriano finally open in Kirkcaldy this week.

Thursday, 16th June 2022, 8:20 am

And huge numbers are expected to flock to Kirkcaldy Galleries to see some of his earliest works, produced when he was still Jack Hoggan.

The Early Years retrospective was scheduled to run in September 2020, but twice postponed because of the pandemic.

Now it begins on Friday (June 17), and for longer than originally planned, with the paintings on show until October 23.

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Jack Vettriano's long awaited retrospective exhibition launches at Kirkcaldy Galleries (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

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The galleries played an integral role in developing his passion for art - inspiring him to begin painting.

In an exclusive extract from an interview with OnFife on his new retrospective, he recalled being awed by the venue’s collection of paintings by Peploe and McTaggart - and of studying them so frequently he thought staff would suspect his motives.

Jack Vettriano's Long Time Gone

“I’m pretty certain they thought ‘he’s in to steal a painting’,” Vetrriano recalls. “I’d gaze at those pictures endlessly, homing in on the brushstrokes, wondering how the artists did it.”

Vettriano borrowed art books from Kirkcaldy Library as he taught himself to paint.

Early success in the long-established Fife Art competition - he won it twice - was, he said “a real game changer” and even after finding worldwide fame, he always wanted to see his own works exhibited in the Lang Toun.

“I loved coming to the gallery here and seeing the work that had been exhibited in London – and I was astonished by the crowds it drew,.

“This gallery means the world to me, so it’s very fitting that this is where I started and this is where I end.”

The exhibition includes a dozen very early works which have never been publicly shown before.

It also features some of most famous works including theb illy Boys, Bluebird at Bonneville, Valentine Rose and Mad Dogs alongside a rejection letter that he received from art school.

The gallery also showcases Long Time Gone which features a couple kissing in the shadows of Methil Power Station.

Alice Pearson, exhibitions curator, said visitors will be blown away by what they see.

She said: “The show looks amazing. "Nothing prepares you for seeing paintings 'in the flesh'.

“Jack's most famous works have been reproduced countless times but, when you get up close, you see swirls of paint, brushmarks and even the occasional hair from a paintbrush.”

She commented on Jack’s brave move in exhibiting his early Hoggans.

“The artists Jack chose to copy tell us a lot about what matters to him – Rembrandt's mastery of dark and light or Monet's use of colour, for example. You can see him developing his technique painting by painting and see just how far he has come,” she said.

Jack Vettriano: The Early Years is at Kirkcaldy Galleries from June 17 to October 23.