Norman Kirkham RGI

Kirkham’s paintings may be products of long experience, but they have no shortage of flair

A painter can find fascination in all manner of things: pigeons taking flight from a tenement roof; the sleek skin of an aubergine; the peculiar qualities of winter light in Glasgow. All these and more are investigated by RGI veteran Norman Kirkham.

He graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1958, when the school produced (as all of Scotland’s art schools did) good, traditional painters working within recognised genres. Kirkham’s painting continues to follow that structure: these works are mainly still lives and landscapes, though there is a surprising group study of a pub on match day ('Half Time at Heraghty’s'), and a single, vivid self-portrait.

'Brass Kettle and Lilies' recalls Cadell or Peploe in illuminating objects against a dark backdrop with deft brushstrokes. The studies of leeks, aubergines and prawns are vibrant with life. But it is in his landscapes that Kirkham becomes most expressive. 'Glasgow Under Snow' encapsulates the city in brown buildings and pink sky; 'Ailsa Craig' is bold, almost abstract, dark sea and sky separated by a bright band of colour; and 'Welcome to 1st January' captures the explosion of fireworks against a dark sky. Kirkham’s works may be products of long experience, but they have no shortage of flair.

RGI Kelly Gallery, until 31 May.

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