Phil Miller, 'Art of Alasdair Gray set to receive national recognition' (The Herald, 07/09/2010)

For fans of Alasdair Gray, the Glaswegian polymath, author, playwright, artist and, many say, resident genius, it will be a long-awaited day of national recognition.

October 22 will be a signature day in the life of Gray, as two separate exhibitions of his art open at leading galleries in Edinburgh and a special event will see the release of a long-awaited book dedicated to his art – A Life in Pictures – a comprehensive tome of his art published by Canongate.

To add to the importance of the date, the National Galleries of Scotland’s show, Gray’s first exhibition at a national gallery, will include several works that have been purchased for its permanent collections.

Gray, 75, is widely regarded as one of the nation’s greatest art figures, being the writer of classic Scottish novels such as Lanark and Poor Things, as well as a distinguished painter of murals and portraiture.

He is also renowned for his illustrations, short stories and radio and television plays.

Anthony Burgess called him “the most important Scottish writer since Sir Walter Scott”.

The two solo exhibitions are at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh.

October 22 will also see the launch of Canongate’s book of Gray’s life in art at the Playfair Library.

The artist’s work will also take part in the prestigious British Art Show, which opens on October 23 in Nottingham, before travelling to London and then the Glasgow Centre for Contem-porary Arts between May and August next year. Gray is the oldest painter in the show of contemporary art.

Sorcha Dallas, a gallery owner and his art agent, said: “The exhibitions of Alasdair Gray’s work at the Talbot Rice Gallery and Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, his acquisition into the permanent collection, the book launch of Canongate’s A Life in Pictures, which is a truly remarkable visual and literary biography, and the inclusion of Alasdair’s work within the British Art Show, proves the importance and legacy of Alasdair’s literary and visual work.

“I have been privileged to work with him over the last three years and to enable his visual work to achieve the international recognition it deserves.

“He is a remarkable man and a unique talent, and the events in October mark the start of a series of exhibitions and projects that will bring the breadth of his work and achievements to a wider audience.”

Dr Simon Groom, director of modern and contemporary art for the National Galleries, said earlier this year that the exhibition was long overdue.

“The show is part of our plans to keep the galleries dynamic and interesting and so show the best in the world, and he is one of the best in the world,” he said.

The National Galleries are understood to be interested in purchasing paintings including Inge in Bed, Erics watching television and Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man.

The Talbot Rice show will focus on Gray’s work with text and image, showing the process of designs produced for book covers, posters and plates for Gray’s publications.