The latest exhibition at the Bank Street Gallery, Kirriemuir, features paintings by artist Nael Hanna and Cuban portraits by photographer Kim Cessford. Gayle Ritchie finds out more.
Back in 2006, a talented Dundee photographer met one of the UK’s most collectible artists while taking pictures for a newspaper.
Quickly discovering they had a great deal in common, it wasn’t long before the men forged a strong bond – a friendship borne of creativity.
In 2014, Kim Cessford and Nael Hanna took their first foreign trip together – to Morocco – persuading their families that the jaunt was essential; an elementary response to their constant need for inspiration.
While soaking up the colours and magic of the country, with a vague plan to produce a joint exhibition, Cessford took photographs while Hanna painted everything around him.
However, their first show together – which runs at Kirrimuir’s Bank Street Gallery until the end of December – ended up going in a different direction.
The stunning exhibition features evocative landscape paintings by Iraqi-born Hanna and striking Cuban portraits taken by Dundee-based Cessford.
Their work offers the poignancy of unidentified, alien portraits and the mystery of the abstract landscape.
Gallery owner Susie Clark said: “Both men draw huge pleasure from their work; this is important.
“The well-being they experience in producing the final piece is tangible in the work itself.
“The energy which flows from Hanna every day is caught in the brushstrokes of his work.
“Speed and a looseness in technique are there but so too is the humanity of the artist’s indecision; producing a reality in his abstraction.
“Cessford’s affability is tangible in the pupils of his anonymous sitters. His lens is the foothold on a bridge that, if you let it, connects you to that other world.
“There is a grounding in their respective representations of the world around them; a peace, an acceptance.
“Take time to stop before each and give yourself enough time to feel it. Ponder the distant tree or house; what is it you see just dipping behind the horizon?
“Reflect on the connection of the spirit with the camera lens; what are those eyes telling us?
“It’s as if these images know that we can recognise their soul.”
When Hanna came to Scotland in the 1980s he was so bowled over by the vast landscapes and dramatic coastline that he made Angus his adopted home.
Today, he is regarded as one of the most significant contemporary landscape painters living in the UK.
Having won a number of awards and exhibited globally, his paintings are also included within major collections worldwide.
Hanna developed his expressive, near-abstract painting style while travelling the world.
Each location and its unique offering of nature provided inspiration for new palettes, textures, and compositions.
He particularly enjoys painting the east coast villages and shoreline where he has settled.
Meanwhile, Cessford, who adores travel and meeting new people across the globe, developed his engaging style of portraiture over the last 30 years.
“The photographs in the Bank Street exhibition are part of the series of street portraits taken during a visit to Havana in March 2016 which display the open, friendly nature of the beautiful Cuban people,” he said.
Kim Cessford & Nael Hanna: a friendship borne of creativity, runs at Kirriemuir’s Bank Street Gallery until December 31. bankstreetgallery.org