During the 1980s, while continuing with his Crucifixion paintings, Aitchison also extended his repertoire to portraits. In his portraiture, Aitchison was ‘at pains to stress the individuality of the sitter and he would demonstrate each sitter’s unique character by intensely focusing on their appearance, hairstyle, shape of face and colourful clothing’. 1
In Boy Seated and Crucifixion the artist presents an unconventional approach to the Crucifixion, combining a contemporary portrait with the traditional religious motif. In front of the Crucifixion, the boy is stripped down to a naked, serene and contemplative figure. His eyes are fixed on the crucifix as the colour bands in the foreground support his left hand.
‘Colours look much better against black skin,’ 2 Aitchison explains, and here we see the colours have been accordingly subtracted from the Crucifixion and transposed to the vicinity of the anonymous black model. It is interesting to compare this painting with Crucifixion IV (see previous page), which has an altogether different mood. Boy Seated and Crucifixion is painted on a dazzlingly yellow ground, which, unlike in other examples that use bands of colour, here saturates the entire picture plane. It is plausible that the yellow implies the Crucifixion is taking place during the day, as opposed to Aitchison’s more
conventional setting of the Crucifixion at night.
1 Andrew Gibbon-Williams, Craigie – The Art of Craigie Aitchison, Canongate, Edinburgh,
2 Introduction to exhibition catalogue, Craigie Aitchison Paintings 1953–1981, Arts Council