Curator's Choice: David McCracken takes a look at artist Donald Urquhart's Big Jessie

By David McCracken | 07 May 2012
A photo of a man holding a print of a black ink caricature drawing of various characters
Curator's Choice: David McCracken, of Peacock Visual Arts, on Glasgow artist Donald Urquhart's Big Jessie...

“Donald Urquhart describes Glasgow as having an ‘energetic glamour’. Glamour and energy are two tangibles that pervade both the art and the venue in Big Jessie, because the Brunswick has a kind of stylish, cosmopolitan ease about it.

There’s Elvis trussed up in a neckerchief as Burns, our ubiquitous bard. Tilda Swinton, Lena Zavaroni and Lulu jostle for position on a Scottish A to Z.

There are Scottie dogs tumbling alongside the ‘sleekit’ Duchess of Argyle, and an ensemble of nationals beautifully rendered in Urquhart’s trademark opaque.

Glasgow affects its artists. The city has consistently produced a conveyor belt of talent that absorbs all its urban myths and truths and manages to reapply them in universal ways.

You cannot think about Belle and Sebastian, Teenage Fanclub, Jim Lambie, Kenny Dalglish, Bill Forsyth or Alasdair Gray without feeling that a powerful identity permeates all their success.

I think their careers deliver a style and panache but still manage to keep their roots. They never feel provincial.

Donald Urquhart’s life and art seem equally interchangeable. He selects and presents a personal narrative that feels humorous, dark, nostalgic and precise without being contradictory.

His line is always articulate – a truism, maybe, for Glasgow itself.”

  • Big Jessie is at The Brunswick Hotel, Glasgow, until May 27. See our Preview.
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