Hugh Buchanan | C-Beams Glittering in the Dark

15 Jun 2020

By David Lee

Having worked as a set designer with Ridley Scott and George Lucas I have long felt Hugh Buchanan’s paintings have a cinematic quality to them. Both our disciplines explore volume, space, form and light. I have often referenced Hugh’s work with directors and directors of photography when discussing set design and lighting. It comes as no surprise therefore that his latest work displays stronger ties to cinematic film design.

Hugh Buchanan | C-Beams Glittering in the Dark
Carpet Bowl - Short Circuit, 2020, watercolour, 51 x 51 cm

These new paintings, created during the recent lockdown, continue his fascination with Classical architecture but explore and embrace a more fantastical quality. They are suffused with an ethereal light, normally the domain of Science fiction concept artists and illustrators. Mapping the subject by using a projected grid, a delicate mesh suspends the form with a technicolour intensity that conjures up images of gaseous nebulae beamed from the Hubble telescope - evoking the romance of Powell and Pressberger and the imagery of the science fiction master illustrators Syd Mead and John Harris.

Hugh Buchanan | C-Beams Glittering in the Dark
Old College at Night, 2020, watercolour, 56 x 56 cm

For me they bring to mind the formative experience of watching Ridley Scott’s ‘Bladerunner’ which had its European Premier in 1982 at the Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh. I recall walking through the city at night, after the screening and its elegant Classicism became imbued with the dystopian drama of the new cinematic vision of a future Los Angeles that I had just seen on screen.

Hugh Buchanan | C-Beams Glittering in the Dark
Atlantis Balustrade, 2020, watercolour, 56 x 38 cm
Hugh Buchanan | C-Beams Glittering in the Dark
Hugh Buchanan in his studio. Photograph by Mila Lazaro

If you have ever wondered, remembering Rutger Hauer's valedictory speech, what ‘Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.’ might look like then you should check out Hugh Buchanans latest series of paintings.

David Lee, 2020, Production Designer and Art Director

The Scottish Gallery and Hugh Buchanan would like to thank David Lee for his insightful text to accompany Hugh Buchanan's new body of work. David Lee is a production designer and art director. Recent film projects have included Brave New World and Watchmen, Star Wars III and Batman Begins. For more information please visit

You can read more about Hugh Buchanan and view his available work here.

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