Writings: seeming figures, a forthright frontality of composition, undisguised alterations of image, where a head can be superimposed on an abandoned full-length figure – a device which should be too obvious but from which Thomson contrives a quasi-poetic layering of nuance and feeling. It is this ability to conjure expressiveness from the makings of an image, from the over painting, the scumblings, the scrapings and incisions made on top of and into the rudimentary scaffolding of the composition that gives these works such an energetic character and directness of communication to the viewer. Never embellished by consciously elegant touches, the reworkings and adjustments of the making process achieve a powerful presence for these paintings, the direct result of their rugged assault on the canvas or board, their refusal to rely on any glibly pleasing effect.
Thomson’s last one-man show in Scotland was almost three years ago, since then he has several shows in Germany and has spent about half his time living and working there; This widening of horizons has had evident results in his work – there is an increased range of subject matter and compositional add the technical resource. The perennial heads and half lengths, staples of Thomson’s production, are joined by more complex compositions of several figures, and full and three-quarter length nudes. Suggestions of interior and still life elements are introduced in some works. for almost the first time, replacing the featureless landscape that Thomson’s people usually inhabit. The figures are expressive of feeling as ever but seem imbued with a greater tenderness than in earlier years, even at times achieving a gracefulness quite different from the more overtly expressionist atmosphere of previous paintings; some of the nudes indeed evince an almost “School of Paris” air of relaxed hedonism, on the other hand, in compositions like Dawn and The Fall, quite different contrasting moods are evoked, the former sinister, an all too vulnerable human pathos. Thomson’s technique has expanded in range too, with flatter more saturated colour complementing a greater emphasis on contour, more fluid use of paint giving the canvas an increased spontaneity and freshness.
The effect of these paintings as a whole is healthily transitional – one senses the painter taking a step back now and again into familiar territory, consolidating ground won, but also reaching out into new themes and successfully integrating these into the corpus of his production. Persisting in his own very individual course and eschewing many tiresome cliches of recent figurative painting, Thomson can be seen to be one of the most directly communicative of younger Scottish painters his work showing an impressive development and achievement.