AS ANY hillwalker knows, even in the remotest landscape, you often get a peculiar feeling that you are not alone. Even if the only sounds you can hear come from your own breath, a rush of wind or birdsong, the feeling won't go away.

Google the words Gaelic and ghost and you will discover all sorts of creepy spectres, such as a Peallaidh (Perthshire water monster) or a Cailleach Bheur (blue-faced Highland hag).

Artist and hillwalker, Philip Braham has long been fascinated by the idea of exploring "otherness" in his work. One of the stand-out paintings in his new exhibition at the Roger Billcliffe Gallery in Glasgow is The Cailleach of Moher. In this painting, a tiny figure of a mythical witch – a Cailleach – plunges towards the crashing waves beneath the towering Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, after a failed attempt at flight. In another painting, Spectral Vision on High Ground, a Highland landscape is "invaded" by a ghostly figure on the horizon.

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It's not just human figures which crash into Braham's landscapes. Storm Clouds over Stanley reveals a typically big-skied Perthshire landscape, a block of yellow rape-seed in one field, wheat in another. Into this otherwise bucolic scene flies an RAF fighter jet. Having been in a similar situation, in which one of these potentially deadly planes roars into the silence and is gone before you even register the sonic boom, I can identify with the feeling of foreboding which emanates from this work.

Braham, who is course director of Art, Philosophy & Contemporary Practice at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee, is one of the most thoughtful painters working in Scotland today.

He studied at Dundee from 1976-80 and by 1987 his star was in the ascendency. One of 17 young emerging artists included that year in the critically-acclaimed Vigorous Imagination Edinburgh Festival exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, his landscapes stood out for their skilful blending of light, colour and texture. An early indication of his ongoing fascination with light in landscape as a metaphor for how we see and interpret the world around us was obvious in one monotype, Forest Path. Study for an Apparition.

In this new solo exhibition – his first in Glasgow since 1999 – a sense of foreboding walks hand-in-hand with beauty. He handles paint skilfully and delicately. In his hands, you can almost touch the wind or feel the dew in your pores.

On show are 38 paintings of varying sizes and subject-matter. As well as his spectral landscapes, there is an ongoing fascination with the figure of Hamlet's doomed lover, Ophelia. Braham says his interest in the figure of the Shakespearian heroine stems from bumping into a homeless man bathing in the Water of Leith. One of the paintings, Dreaming Ophelia, depicts his grown-up daughter lying on her back, her hair fanned out in the foreground.

"Seeing the man in the Water of Leith was a strange kind of meeting," Braham recalls. "And it was a surreal image which stayed with me. For me, the Ophelia paintings are not about drowning, they are about being in another world, a sleep or a dream. Or even a trance. They are an exploration of otherness."

Braham's figures reveal his skill as a draughtsman. Dreaming Ophelia is an essay in perspective as well as a thing of beauty. All his paintings in this exhibition are controlled and precise, yet there is a vigorous softness to them which makes you want to stroke them as you pass.

According to Braham, his work is all about metaphors. "The paintings are about how metaphors come to our aid," he explains. "They make things bearable. The Cliffs of Moher, for example, are a notorious suicide site in Ireland. I'm interested in how a myth like this springs from a place like the Cliffs. A place where people go to end their lives.

"The philosopher Derrida says that metaphors move the blame and help to make actions more palatable. My hope though is that the painting is a beautiful image which draws people in and then they can go off on their own train of thought with it."

A Wind from the North: Philip Braham, Roger Billcliffe Gallery, Blythswood Street, Glasgow until November 21.

www.billcliffegallery.com