The purpose of art, Pablo Picasso once said, “is washing the dust of daily life off our souls”. So if you are feeling particularly dusty at the moment there will be a gallery near you that can help. This autumn and winter sees a wide range of exhibitions across Scotland to suit your artistic tastes, whether that be for 21st-century street photography or 15th-century woodcuts. 
Here are 10 shows to explore around the country. NB, visits to the gallery cafe are not compulsory, but if you are so inclined …

The Printmaker’s Art: Rembrandt to Rego
National (Royal Scottish Academy), December 2 to February 25, 2024

Actually, this exhibition of prints drawn from Scotland’s national collection stretches a little further back than Rembrandt van Rijn working in the Dutch Republic in the 17th century. In fact it starts at the end of the 15th century and the work of the German artist Albrecht Durer. In all, five centuries of screen-printing, etchings and engravings from some of the greatest artists in history are on display, including the work of such disparate creative forces as William Blake and Hokusai, Andy Warhol and the aforementioned Pablo Picasso. As the title suggests, Paula Rego makes the list too, as do Tracey Emin and Elizabeth Blackadder. 

Artist Rooms: Martin Creed 
Dick Institute, Kilmarnock, until January 6

Glasgow-born Turner prizewinner Martin Creed is one of those lightning rod artists whose work inspires both joy and contempt in equal measure. He is as likely to trigger “is it art?” headlines as win prestigious art prizes. But go to Kilmarnock with an open mind and you’ll find the work of an artist full of wit and playfulness. As the neon sign on the wall says: “Don’t Worry.”

Simon Murphy: Govanhill
Street Level Photoworks, until January 27, 2024

Photographer Simon Murphy, once of this parish, has spent years documenting the people who live in the district of Govanhill in Glasgow’s southside. This exhibition is a wonderful showcase for his eye and his empathy. His black and white street photography captures the people and the place and does so with a restorative dose of humanity. Recommended.

Beagles & Ramsay:  NHOTB & RAD
Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, until April 28, 2024

Having to follow the blockbusting Banksy exhibition at GoMA is something of a hiding to nothing, you might think. But credit Scottish artists John Beagles and Graham Ramsay with the cojones to take it on with their new exhibition NHOTB & RAD, for which they reimagine Gallery 1 in GoMA as an upscale fashion store for their fictitious fashion lines (couture, ready-to-wear and sportswear). The artistic duo, who have been working together since the mid-1990s, have consumerism in their sights in this quirky, immersive exhibition. 

Deep Rooted
City Art Centre, Edinburgh, from November 18 to February 25, 2024

This group exhibition looks at the relationship between people and the natural environment. We’re talking trees. And beauty, fragility, climate change, wellbeing and our own deep-rooted behaviours. On paper (and where does that come from?), this is a fascinating show bringing together the work of eight exemplary contemporary artists. Expect work from Andy Goldsworthy, Katie Paterson, Hanna Tuulikki, Naomi Mcintosh, Andrew Mackenzie, Dalziel + Scullion and one-time Turner nominee (and Paisley buddie) Anya Gallaccio.

The Herald:

Michelle Williams Gamaker: Our Mountains Are Painted On Glass
DCA, Dundee, December 9 - March 24, 2024

British Sri Lankan film artist Michelle Williams Gamaker combines sumptuous image-making with a dissection of colonialism in Thieves, the film which is at the heart of her new exhibition in Dundee next month. A fantasy retelling of the classic film(s) The Thief of Bagdad, it reimagines actors Anna May Wong (star of the 1924 silent version) and Sabu (from the 1940 remake) seizing control of the story. The result is both a love letter to classic cinema and a deconstruction of its underlying power structures. Other films and related works by Williams Gamaker will also be on display.

The Herald:

Scottish Portrait Awards
Kirkcudbright Galleries, until January 14, 2024

Before it transfers to Glasgow Art Club in January, the latest Scottish Portrait Awards exhibition is on display in Kirkcudbright. More than 80 portraits are on show, including Donna McGlynn’s Self-Portrait which won first prize. This year’s exhibition also sees the first time photography has been included, with impressive work in both black and white and in colour.

Favourite Centres and New Flavours
Kirkcaldy Galleries, Fife. until January 24

This “greatest hits” display of work to be found in Kirkcaldy Galleries has been running most of this year. But there’s still plenty of time to discover this mixture of old favourites, including work by the Scottish Colourists, the Glasgow Boys and William McTaggart, alongside new or never-before-seen art. 

Calder Wood 
Burgh Hall, Linlithgow, until January 21, 2024

Any excuse to visit Linlithgow is one to be taken (it’s cafetastic after all), and a visit to the current exhibition at the Burgh Hall surely qualifies. Featuring the work of five artists – Anne Gilchrist, Kirsty Venters Marks, Tansy Lee Moir, Jennie Tuffs and Cordula Marks Venters – who have spent four seasons exploring nearby Calder Wood, this small but suitably sylvan exhibition is full of colour and shadow. Any budding fantasy writers should find lots of inspiration in the drawings of Cordula Marks Venters in particular. They brim with a real sense of otherness.

Turner in January
Royal Scottish Academy, January 1-January 31

And finally, let’s look ahead to the cold, clear days of the New Year. Burning blue skies, breath all smoke and shiver and the thrill of JMW Turner’s watercolours on display in Edinburgh, “all at one time, free of charge and in the month of January and no longer,” as the Victorian collector Henry Vaughan decreed in his bequest to the Scottish National Gallery in 1900. A visit to see the Turners is as much a tradition of the Scottish winter as first-footing and booking a holiday to the sun.