Around 80 guests attended the private preview event for the long-awaited show, which had been postponed twice because of Covid-19 restrictions.
In his welcome speech, the artist paid tribute to Kirkcaldy Galleries and Fife’s public art collection, which he described as the best in Scottish art outside Edinburgh and Glasgow.
He also had a dig at the Scottish art establishment and National Galleries of Scotland, which has never exhibited any of his works.
“It has an annual budget, and that budget is your money, and my money,” he said. “It is taxpayers’ money – so why don’t they give the taxpayers what the taxpayers want?”
Before adding, to much laughter: “I’m not saying I’d be at the top of the list but probably the second top.”
Jack Vettriano: The Early Years, which opens today (Friday), features an array of early works completed before the artist achieved international success in the 1990s. Alongside pieces that have commanded five and six figure sums are a dozen oil paintings, produced by the artist in his 20s and early 30s and signed with his birth name, Jack Hoggan.
It is the artist’s first retrospective since a major show at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery in 2013 and the first to focus on his formative years and early career.
For Vettriano, who grew up in Methil and Leven, the exhibition is a welcome return to the gallery where he developed his passion for art, having been gifted a set of paints for his 21st birthday.
The show also includes one of two paintings he entered for the Royal Scottish Academy’s annual show in 1988 – both of which sold on the first day, a turning point that inspired the artist to go full-time – and also his rejection letter from Edinburgh School of Art.
Jack Vettriano: The Early Years is at Kirkcaldy Galleries until 23 October 2022