An important work by the Glasgow artist Ken Currie, A Scottish Triptych: Nightshift, Departure, Saturdays, is one of the leading works In Bonhams 19th and 20th Century Pictures sale In Edinburgh on Wednesday 30 November. It is estimated at £20,000-30,000.
One of the most significant Scottish post-war figurative artworks to have come onto the market in recent years, this monumental triptych shows the influence of early 20th century German painters such as George Grosz and Otto Dix whom Currie greatly admired. While it captures the spirit of Glasgow in the mid-late 1980s, some of the places in the painting, such as McKinnon's bar in Nightshift, are readily identifiable, the work also deals in motifs and totems. The central figure in Nightshift and Departure, for example, references the wandering, alienated man familiar from the works of Kafka and Beckett.
The triptych was exhibited in the famous Vigorous Imagination group show in Glasgow in 1987, and at Currie's major show in Berlin in 1988, which assured the artist of a following there. It was later exhibited in San Francisco, alongside work by other artists of the New Glasgow Boys School. It was purchased by the exhibition's organiser and has been in California ever since.
Bonhams Head of Scottish Art, Chris Brickley, said, "A Scottish Triptych: Nightshift, Departure, Saturdays is a deeply unsettling work. As so often in Currie's paintings, the precise meaning is left to the interpretation of the viewer but it is impossible to escape its air of menace. Though very much rooted in Glasgow and Currie's own socialist politics, the paintings are nonetheless distinctly European in outlook and reflect the influence of European writers, thinkers, artists and film makers."