Hugh Buchanan: Enlightenment – Library paintings

‘Arguably the greatest watercolour painter working in Britain today’

The University of Aberdeen announced a new exhibition of Hugh Buchanan’s paintings at the Old Town House on the old High St including the above claim.

Who gave Buchanan the title is unknown? But it is quite a reputation to live up to.

The Old Town House in Aberdeen is playing host to some of his most challenging works yet: that of libraries throughout Britain. Buchanan has captured the beautiful tranquility of a library and a sense of their importance through his large watercolours. Certainly the repeated manipulation of shadow, and the acute detail - both Buchanan hallmarks - show his work reaching an almost abstract zenith. However, the colours of the paintings are muted neutral tones and Buchanan seems to be lacking in artistic variation. He is very good at what he does - beautiful watercolours - but variety is the spice of life.

No doubt librarians and conservators would deplore the book-destroying light he uses to such effect but this practical consideration should not constrain our appreciation.

Arguably the greatest watercolour painter working in Britain today? Perhaps. Let the argument continue.


An exhibition of the library paintings of Hugh Buchanan.

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