A self-portrait, which was partially destroyed by its creator, the Scottish artist Craigie Aitchison, has been bought by the National Portrait Gallery. (http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/defaced-craigie-aitchison-portrait-bought-by-national-portrait-gallery-8422724.html)

The artist apparently slashed the work when a friend commented that the portrait was ‘flattering’. Aitchison was persuaded by Martin Wyld, Head of Conservation at the National Gallery, to allow restoration of the painting, yet at the same time retaining the laceration markings. The relined painting, with the slashings clearly visible, remained in the artist’s possession until his death in 2009.

Aitchison’s large body of work is very distinctive. He tended to zone in on specific elements, for example animals and birds, portraying them in ‘simplified’ depictions, which were vibrantly coloured.

He was particularly interested in the Crucifixion, which is the focus of many of his works. These paintings tend to focus on Christ on the Cross as the sole element in the piece, and, perhaps unusually, the colours remain vivid and bright, far from the sombre tones that more usually define works of art on this theme.

Aitchison viewed the Crucifixion as pivotal to human experience:

“The Crucifixion is the most horrific story I’ve ever heard,” he said. “They were all ganging up against one person. As long as the world exists one should attempt to record that. It was so unfair.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/6860258/Craigie-Aitchison.html)

CQ

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