Tony’s bold and gutsy style - influenced by Pop Art, German Expressionism and Fauvism - is rooted in the kind of spontaneous art he enjoyed in his childhood, filling endless notepads with colourful and striking images.
Always a storyteller – in words and pictures – a budding ambition to paint was quickly shelved after unexpected success as a best selling novelist with his anti- hero punk rocker detective, Gus Dury scorching through the Scottish crime scheme, headbutting a politician on the way! Dubbed ‘tartan noir’, Tony’s work has been nominated for eight CWA Daggers and was runner up in the Guardian’s Not The Booker prize. In fact, Irvine Welsh the author of Trainspotting said “Tony Black is my favourite British crime writer and Gus Dury is the genre’s most interesting protagonist… the power, style and street swagger that makes most of his contemporaries a little bland by comparison”.
Having moved from Australia to Ireland and then Scotland, Tony eventually became a journalist in Edinburgh, writing his debut novel in 2009. The media storm that followed in Europe resulted in him writing two Gus Dury books a year and, almost burnt out, he retreated to Melbourne having banished his hero to Edinburgh. Returning to Scottish capital via Ireland and the Isle of Arran ten years later, Tony found he could happily re-connect with Gus Dury. “Gus eventually crowbarred his way back into my affections, and before I knew it a new novel was finished”. Tony’s latest book, the fifth in the series, is called Wrecked which he says is “the grittiest of the lot”!
Other forays into historical and literary fiction only seemed to reveal the limitations of the form to Tony and just didn’t quell the urge to pursue his visual art more fully. He now paints every day, following a spontaneous style that, although at odds with the rigid pre-planning of his novel writing, seems to draw on many deep-rooted aspects of it.
Tony’s painting routine relies heavily on tapping into the unconscious by allowing the brush to lead the way, which kicks off a stream of images he then shepherds into a coherent whole. Many of the images recur from picture to picture, reappearing like characters in a novel, building a narrative of their own… one chapter at a time. He believes that, in this internet age where the written word has been greatly weakened, only radical imagery now has the power to reveal the human spirit.