Summers Remembered

Corrymella Scott Gallery in Newcastle played host to an exhibition entitled “Summers Remembered – Oil paintings by Jack Vettriano” from 12th November to 3rd December 1993. A 28- page catalogue was released for the event containing a full list of the 25 paintings exhibited and contained images of 16 of those paintings and a three-page foreword by Vivien Hamilton, Curator of Art at Glasgow Museums. Hamilton interviewed the artist in an STV television documentary based on his painting which was first broadcast in May 1991. Hamilton observes “To enter a room full of the paintings of Jack Vettriano is to enter a world of intrigue – a world populated with glamorously dressed, available women and de-mob suited, attentive men. A world often discerned through a haze of cigarette smoke, through the lamp-lightened darkness of a bar or through the sun-drenched breeziness of an umbrella on a beach promenade. Each painting invites the viewer into a world of which drama forms the very heart”.
Born out of Vettriano’s own childhood and adolescence came an interest in fairgrounds and fairs, for the beach and promenade. This exhibition illustrates perfectly the artist’s ability to enclose his figures in strong compositions – architectural features such as the promenade’s metal railings provide the perfect framework of verticals and horizontals against which ‘Seaside Sharks’ repose. ‘The Duellists’ captures a pair of smartly dressed card-playing men against the background of the green painted shelter reminiscent of Paul Cezanne’s ‘The Card Players’ or the Cardsharps by Caravaggio. Black umbrella’s afford cover to the protagonists in ‘Right Time, Right Place’ and ‘Summertime Blues’ whilst it is perhaps the male figure holding the cream umbrella who requires protection from the steely glare from behind the sunglasses of a lady in the yellow spotted dress. The arm on hip highlights her gritty determination, the outstretched palm perhaps a placatory gesture by the male. The theme of confident independent women extends into ‘Good Time Girls’ and ‘The Main Attraction’ where the ladies stand challengingly waiting, often appearing calculating, never vulnerable or uncertain. We visit the inside of the local pub where the ‘Gambling Boys’ enjoy a pint and ‘The Barmaid’s Fancy’ oozes sexual chemistry with her confident demeanor and strong eye-contact. ‘Dancing Couple’ depicts a competing pair gliding across the floor hinting at the artists passion for dance to be later reinforced in the 2011 exhibition ‘The Ballroom Spy’.
Art critic for the Scotland on Sunday W Gordon Smith wrote “Summers Remembered is Jack Vettriano’s latest sortie into that hinterland half-world in which so many of his subjects – guys with snap brim fedoras and lipstuck gals in sexy satins- hover with intent, flirt engage, put themselves in the marketplace. There are fewer sinister and overtly erotic images in this vigorous new work – most of which sold at the private view – but his conjuring of small human dramas, his evocation of yearning and confrontation and conquest, sparks off countless scenarios, and tingles the roots of folk memory. His beaches are places of assignation and encounter. His seedy rooms are dangerous traps or corridors to fresh adventure. And his management of paint and light and the lure of shadows grows in confidence”.