John Bellany | A Passion for Life

  • 17th November 2012 − 27th January 2013 | Academy (Scottish National Gallery) | £7 (£5)

The 1980s

By the mid-1980s Bellany had given up drink and his paintings became quieter and more measured. Even the works that he made as requiems for the deaths of his wife Juliet and his father in 1985 are restrained and elegiac. He remarried his first wife and a more serene period in his art seemed set fair.

In 1987 and early 1988, however, it became clear that, despite having given up alcohol, Bellany was not going to get better unless he had a liver transplant. He managed to get through all the tests and in the spring of 1988 he had the transplant operation. It was successful. Spurred on by new hope for the future, Bellany drew himself, his doctors and nurses as he recovered from the operation. These remarkably honest and occasionally searing depictions make up a rare record of art overcoming physical disability.