Black Quarter : Paddy McCann
Paddy McCann’s new exhibition at the MAC Belfast runs until 18th October in the Tall and Upper galleries. McCann’s new body of work, developed over the past two years is succinctly explained by the painter himself.
This was my first opportunity to view Paddy’s work in person and on a lazy Saturday I chose to head down and check it out. I certainly recommend doing so if you’re around Belfast and have the time, actually, just make time and go check it out. This piece will only attempt to explain my feeling as I walked around the show and what I was left to think about upon departure.
When one reads about what McCann wanted to achieve with these works, I feel he was wholly successful in execution. The show is an invitation to explore the mind of the painter. We are given his perspective, whether looking at a landscape he grew up with or the view from his studio window. We are allowed to share these memories or actions with the artist. The relatable behaviours or scenes that McCann paints, allow for a level of communication and connection that is definitely heightened.
The application of paint is liberal and confident whilst allowing for serendipity at times. Drips of colour are left a top of layers of gestural and imprinted elements creating a hazy viewfinder to a memory, or several memories that are rich and considered. Several pieces display evidence of the painter cleaning his brush on the side of the canvas and leaving it there, perhaps demonstrating that the process, the mark making and the feel he wants to evoke is all part of the representation and experience. These little nuances, the titles of the work, paired with a palette, that on the whole, I felt was quite subdued give the viewer an opportunity to interpret the works in several ways. The subjective view that Paddy gives can be further dismantled and built back up again by us.
I felt in some instances, that the juxtaposition of elements Paddy laid down created dream like scenarios which led to further exploration. I wanted to look at the painting from several angles, examining and breaking down the visual language to further understand or pose questions about their meanings. That visual language is strong, at times bordering on blunt. Of course, there are pieces that are more successful than others but that is obviously up for debate as one can interpret work differently. Repetitious components, imprinted on the canvas, such as cassette tapes, birds and high heels could simply be strong memories, or perhaps, alluding to bigger issues. Whilst walking around, I scrawled a few words down. These were, consumerism, capitalism, religion, nature, technology, past and future. What that means? I don’t really know, but those were the bigger constructs I attempted to relate the work to.
On the other hand, I felt a personal connection to the pieces, “Studio Window” and “Is it still raining?”. As Paddy hoped to “…create an emotional presence…” I feel these were the most successful in doing so. On the whole, I feel that’s what makes Paddy’s work so enjoyable. It feels as though he paints from the heart, as much as he uses his mind to collage the memories. He has the ability to make the viewer draw upon personal experience, interpret his experiences or think about the broader human experience all at once. Check out the MAC's Meet the Artist interview here. Hopefully you enjoyed the artist's tour on September 17th if you were fortunate to get a ticket. Feel free to leave your perspective on McCann’s work in the comments section and cheers for reading. All photography credits goes to Simon Mills who you can check out here.