The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh will reopen with a brand new work by Ken Currie

Arrived at the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) in Queen Street on a long-term loan direct from the artist, the large portrait is titled Unknown Man and depicts forensic anthropologist Professor Dame Sue Black in a robe surgery, standing behind the covered remains of a body.

The couple met during a BBC Radio 4 talk show about the relationship between art and anatomy.

Currie then visited the Center for Human Anatomy and Identification at the University of Dundee, where Professor Black was then director, and was so moved by his work that he asked him to sit down for a portrait .

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He said: “I am delighted to be able to loan the painting Unknown Man to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

“It will make the painting more accessible to a wider audience and hopefully draw attention to the amazing work that Sue Black has undertaken during her long career as an anatomist and forensic anthropologist around the world.

“I would like to thank both the Portrait Gallery for facilitating this loan and Sue Black herself for her patience and cooperation in bringing this painting to fruition.”

Currie considers Unknown Man to be related to his popular Three Oncologists commission, with the two to be exhibited together in The Modern Portrait.

Professor Dame Sue Black and artist Ken Currie in front of Currie’s new portrait, Unknown Man (2019), of which Professor Black is the subject.

The exhibition will also show dozens of pieces featuring famous Scottish personalities, including Sir Billy Connolly, Annie Lennox and Doddie Weir – as well as several other works recently acquired by NGS.

Christopher Baker, Director of European and Scottish Art and Portraiture at NGS, said: “Encounters between accomplished artists and subjects can have electrifying results and that is certainly the case with this powerful portrait of the distinguished scientist. Forensic Science, Professor Dame Sue Black, by Ken Currie.

“It has a confrontational quality and alludes to his important and revelatory work, with all the drama, intensity and careful calibration that characterizes the painter’s career.

“We are proud to be able to show this extraordinary painting, which will be a key attraction in The Modern Portrait exhibition, when the Scottish National Portrait Gallery reopens to the public.”

Visitors can book their free tickets to the exhibition on the National Galleries of Scotland website.

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