Norman Gilbert was born to Scottish parents in Trinidad in 1926. He decided to pursue a career in painting and it quickly became his life’s work. Norman attended the Glasgow School of Art where he laid the foundation for his painting style—one that has been evolving and developing ever since. Norman died on the 19th December 2019. We're proud to hold a range of his work in the Bridgeman Images archives.
In 1967 the Upper Grosvenor Gallery mounted his first solo exhibition. The same year Vogue magazine published a feature on his work entitled “ The Loneliness of the Long Distance Painter.” In 1974 Norman’s work was the subject of a BBC film as part of a series of arts programmes entitled “SCOPE,” presented by the critic and writer W. Gordon Smith. The broadcast coincided with his solo show in the Edinburgh Talbot Rice Centre. To date Norman has had fourteen solo shows, in addition to many group exhibitions.
Norman’s paintings depict his family and friends, seizing on the vitality of the young and their modes. The models have changed over time as his four sons were born, grew up, formed relationships, and most recently, have had children of their own. Norman’s highly structured images are given form with the use of decorative pattern and vivid colour, creating a synthesis between figure and space. He says, “I try to make each colour and shape enhance every other colour and shape so it’s entirely satisfactory, so it’s at peace.”
His most recent work continues to deal with the same pictorial concerns, but omits the human figure for the first time. Now, Norman’s subject is the planter-cultivated back yard of his Victorian town house.
Technically, the paintings are prepared with meticulous attention to the materials and methods used. The oil paint is applied to a traditional, semi absorbent, chalk ground on rigid board, which best maintains the colour and the permanence of the pigment. The fidelity and lasting appeal of Norman Gilbert’s impressive life’s work is thus assured.
Discover the work of Norman Gilbert held on the Bridgeman Images archive here.