Glasgow painter Gordon Picken discusses his artistic influences and practices

  • The List
  • 18 October 2012
Glasgow painter Gordon Picken discusses his artistic influences and practices

What was the first exhibition you went to see?
In the 1970s, my mother took me to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow and pointed out Salvador Dali’s ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’. A controversial painting in its day, it was attacked several years before. Back then I was more interested in looking for the slash marks than the painting itself.

What was your first paid job as an artist?
Straight after leaving Art School I was commissioned by a firm of architects to paint murals in Spain. It was a difficult time: all that sun, sea and raw sienna …

What kind of music do you listen to while working?
I try to stick to instrumentals or anything that doesn’t have lyrics. Singing in a foreign language seems to be okay. Cesaria Evora, Salif Keita work well, though ambient dub works best, especially Bill Laswell.

What are the best things about opening nights?
It’s a chance for people to check out what I’ve been doing. And with the way I work, it’s often the first chance for me to see what I’ve been doing.

Do you read reviews of your work?
Sometimes but always from behind the couch with a cushion over my eyes.

Which living artist should be better known than they currently are?
Allan Ramsay, not the 18th century portrait painter, but the Leith-born figurative artist now resident in London.

What has been your career highlight?
Showing in the Old Ambulance Depot, of course.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t listen to advice from your elders, keep painting and make your own mistakes.

Gordon Picken: Solastalgia, the Old Ambulance Depot, Edinburgh, Fri 19–Mon 29 Oct.


New paintings from Glasgow-based artist Gordon Picken, specially commissioned for the Depot. Opening show 19 October, 6pm–9pm.

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