Paul Reid at The Scottish Gallery. Greek tradition with a twist !
Paul Reid is a Scottish painter who works in a figurative style. He was chosen by New Statesman as one of the Best of Young British under the age of 35, in 2002. Critics have noted that his work tends to reject contemporary art’s values, and instead harkens back to old masters such as Rembrandt and Caravaggio. He paints from real life and photographs, working from the Scottish landscape that surrounds him.
I love the way that Paul creates echoes of Greek mythology scattered amongst the highlands, which curiously don’t appear to be out of place. His ‘manimals’ (my term), seem at one with their environment, and his classical-painterly style, adds weight to them being believable, as though they’ve existed for as long as a Da Vinci or a Rubens masterpiece has.
I presume, like the old master painters, Paul has paid models who sit for him in order to create his artworks and occasionally if you look closely, you can spot the same face in more than one painting. His studies are meticulous, detailed and pave the way for the finished piece.
From an interview with the Edinburgh Evening News I discovered where Paul’s original love of the human form derived from.
It says … If the images look as if they’ve fallen from the pages of a fantasy novel, then it’s probably not surprising. Paul, 40, today keeps a guide to Greek mythology art – a reference point for many of his works – handy, but as a child growing up in Scone, Perthshire, it was Ladybird books that retold ancient stories with fascinating illustrations that caught his attention, before giving way to teenage superhero comic books.
Paul tells us “It was actually comics I wanted to do. I loved 2000 AD and Judge Dredd,” he confesses. “I spent a lot of time copying the images, and when you think about it, comic book artists tend to draw perspective and human form – they need to know where all the muscles go and how they work. They don’t spend as long as I do on it, but they need to be able to do it. So when I went to art college, I could already draw the human form correctly, because I’d spent so long drawing Batman.”
You can see how Paul is already mapping out how the final painting will be through the work in his sketches.
Though he received a First Class Honours in Drawing and Painting at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee (1994-98 ), his school tutors originally sighed and said he was doing it all wrong. Paul now counts royalty and famous patrons among his ardent fans. He even impressed The Prince Of Wales to such an extent, that Charles (himself a fellow artist), invited Paul to join him on a royal official visit to Turkey and Jordan in 2004. There he soaked up the desert landscapes and ancient cities and returned to his Edinburgh studio to create striking artworks, three of which are now in royal possession. Proving once again that tutors aren’t always right : )
There’s an ever so slightly odd feel to these formally seated portrait-style paintings, where the subject and the landscape become one. I like that it unnerves the viewer. They are not action shots like some of Paul’s other work, but possibly again hark back to the traditional elements of a commissioned portrait of some lord or lady or member of the nobility. It gives the central figure a degree of importance but as they’re not dressed in linens and silks (as the kings and queens would have been for their portraits), it makes them down to earth, ordinary and more accessible to the viewer.
If you are thinking that it would be great to see some of Paul’s work up close and personal, then you’re in luck.
But you need to be quick as there’s an exhibition of his work on at The Scottish Gallery, 16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6HZ. Until the end of October. A fabulous artist putting a welcome twist on the traditional.