Pen Reid - Behind the Curtain

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We are delighted to announce a solo exhibition by artist Pen Reid in Compass Gallery, Glasgow.

After visiting Pen Reid to view and discuss the new body of work for her solo exhibition in Compass Gallery, I came away exhilarated, excited and uplifted. Down a winding pathway at the bottom of her garden is Pen’s new studio. It is expansive and breathing, a place flooded with light and the windows look back up onto her garden which feeds her interest in the garden “as a controlled space”. It felt like a sanctuary and we spent several hours looking at and discussing her imaginative and beautifully executed paintings and drawings which she has been creating for this new show: “Behind the Curtain”.

Reid creates images which contrast the domestic spaces of nurture and security, painted with delicate and vibrant lively colour and pattern with other areas of dark, bolder brush strokes suggesting that behind the curtain there is a frustration of unspoken female longings. Amongst the fairy tale images of domestic events there are euphemisms for conflict. The compositions are sometimes divided with areas of elaborate pattern; Hiroshige, the Japanese painter, is an artist whose work she greatly admires. A sense of foreboding hangs over those experiencing what appear to be insignificant domestic events. In this aspect of the paintings the works of Carel Weight come to mind.

She loves drawing and often works on battered old hardback books which have fading animal prints and patterned backgrounds; the titles inspire the images. She lays down colour which vibrates underneath. Her images are never sentimental. There are memories of childhood joys and the interiors of dolls houses but in the shadow of her domestic interiors there is the sense of foreboding. In some, there is homage to mother, mothering and nesting, where she expresses living with hope, life and joy.

Jill Gerber


“Fingerprints, scumbled paint and layers of oil or ink are laid down with a bravura blend of tenderness and confidence. There are controlled accidents of transparency and texture, using varnish and thinners. Working with oil paints or ink on linen or board, she builds up surface only to break them down, with a painting often made up of half revealed layers.”

Jan Patience


Reid’s first solo exhibition took place in 2020 in Edinburgh whilst Covid restrictions on travel and social distancing were in place, so most viewers were virtual ones. Since then, she has been working on a substantial new body of paintings for this solo show in Compass Gallery, Glasgow which can be viewed in reality from the 13th May and online on our website.