lifetime piling up
The paintings of Laird Galbraith:
"After the initial impact of colour, it was the evocative mood that stayed with me...
"The content varies: solitary figures, objects, places, couples frozen in a romantic moment. But there's something else - something more unnerving. The paintings create more questions than they answer - what appears to be takes us to a place where we only have one option: to ask questions of the work and of ourselves...
"An aerial view may set the scene - but where are we? Looking out of an airplane window, being that bird with a view? Or have we supplied the photos? Enlarged, the haze of processed dots and lines creating patterns for brush and paint to improvise on, riffing on our own visions, our own dreams. Often images are repeated in different combinations, giving a new perspective to events.
"A woman in blue stares dreamily across a crowded bar - but the man she looks at is lost in thoughts of his own. Framed by the foreground, is she thinking of what she might say to him? Or will she make the first move and speak to us?
"In a field of green, a man sees something missed by the world around him - and watches. Like a Zapruda cine-still, we hear the soundless gunshot. While juxtaposed in this same moment, two lovers whisper beneath the silhouette of a tree...
"Laird's canvasses are not a simple reportage of photographs, oil painting replicas a la Gerhard Richter- but paintings born of photographic images- images culled from a multitude of sources: films, magazines, unclaimed and forgotten photos- even video footage from private investigations...
"Laird's father was a Private Investigator. His after-school job while growing up was to accompany his Dad around Glasgow and its suburbs- ideal training for the embryonic artist and people watcher. (It inspired me to write a play- Looking for K- where the hero is a fusion of artist and private eye).
"Privately, Laird can talk at length about his influences, lucidly drawing out the concepts which direct his artistic practice. Publicly he is more reticent, wary of burdening his work with art-speak and pretension, of tainting the visual with unnecessary explanations. Space is left for the viewer to look at his paintings without analysis and subtitles.
"What we are left to wonder is: what really inspires his work? why have these freeze-dried fragments been brought together? how much of the artists inner and outer life is hidden or revealed? His work is vibrant and introspective- moments stolen from time and transformed. Lairds paintings speak to you directly. This is their strength- they give viewers the freedom to make them their own."
Danny Start 2002
(Danny Start is a playwright and screenwriter. He has worked with the Soho Theatre, London and Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, and is currently writing for Graeae Theatre Company and BBC Radio 4.)