For Kiwi-born, Sydney-based artist Euan Macleod (b. 1956 / Christchurch) “…the canvas is not only a mirror in which he finds himself, it is also a doorway into a world that lies beyond ... These paintings have, at their core, a sense of the mystery of human life and of a vast perplexing universe which lies beyond human comprehension ..."
Macleod’s work is concerned with the natural landscape and human presence within it, a human presence that can be read as the artist himself, or as a symbolic representation of humanity. I’m always struck by the ethereal nature of the human presence in Macleod’s paintings. It’s most often a male presence, a male who is not fully present. One wonders at why this not fully present male is actually not completely there; not completely distinct or apart from the scene; distinct and fully embodied?
On one of the exhibition’s accompanying texts it is written that: “Macleod’s paintings are parables and allegories; they sing mournful songs and tell wise tales.” But, I think they’re more than this. They invite questions. They invite an encounter with the subconscious. Two of the questions evoked by Macleod’s work are invariably, “in what ways does the walking / ethereal male lead the viewer toward reflecting on new ways of experiencing what it might mean to be a male in the world?” “What kind of male is he?”
Most helpful in engaging with Macleod’s work is the extremely well written Australian publication EUAN MACLEOD: The Painter in the Painting (Pipers Press / 2010 ISBN 0975190199) by Gregory O’Brien. It features over 200 colour images.
The Euan Macleod exhibition – The Painter in the Painting - is now on at the Waikato Museum in Hamilton until Jul 2015 – more information here.
Here’s a couple of quotes from plaques set between Macleod paintings.
"Our feeling flows into places, and an accumulation of feeling, historical, cultural and personal, flows back from places into our consciousness…"
- Geoffrey Grigson.
goes will one ever
- Robert Creeley.
My favourite painting in the Hamilton exhibition were - Tattooed Man, 1998 (image accompanying this post); and Early Morning Parachilna, 2008.
For a 10-minute conversation with Macleod, go here.