Why are we able to feel nostalgia for a world we have never visited nor known, in front of Jack Vettriano’s paintings? Why do we feel as strangers - yet accomplices - in front of the men and women populating his works? These are key questions to understand the Scottish painter’s success, a painter who has managed to become one of the most followed artist of contemporary painting, all over the world. First, we need to focus our attention on the use of the light: unprecedented in the way he uses to play with the darkness which characterises all his works: faces in half light, thoughtful, facing a crossroad where they are asked to state their position. The bodies are captured at the beginning of an action, the consequences of which are unknown: deceitful gazes, arms meeting in secret relationships.
Vettriano’s couples are constantly longing. Hunters and preys mix up, though they still remind us of a past when roles where well defined, as the artist himself states: “It is a perfect world where I wanted to live, but that didn’t happen. It is like travelling backwards when a neat distinction between men and women existed – nowadays everything seems androgynous to me.” Hence the choice of undressing his women characters only, even without following a chauvinist philosophy, in order to highlight the beauty and uniqueness of the female body.
Although the comparison with Edward Hopper seems to be compulsory, it is too mundane as Vettriano has an ace in the hole compared to him: sensuality. The torments of passion he depicts are eternal and the distance between his characters is cancelled by their palpable attraction, as if we were looking through a door hole well aware of what is about to happen, by simply imagining it.
The lack of interest by the academic establishment and the majority of the critics towards his work led to a distracted analysis, labelling his recent works are pornography, taking a huge step aside from reality; love is the core of such paintings as: A test of true love or Setting new standards where the claustrophobic setting hides audacious images that are never vulgar, because his canvases are to be read as tales narrating the stories of the most close and the most distant human beings: lovers. Vettriano hasn’t exhibited his works for a few years, however - in 2015 - he opened his publishing company.