Angus McDonald is an internationally recognised Australian artist living and working in Lennox Head on the far north coast of NSW. His 30th solo exhibition ‘White Noise’ 4 March – 1 May 2016 -has just opened at the Tweed Regional Gallery in Murwillumbah and I was lucky enough to be able to attend the opening with a friend.
I have to say that this gallery is a spectacular venue for an opening night – it is set in a glorious green valley and the sun was just setting during the opening speeches – a ‘light show’ worth seeing. The gallery is also home to the Margaret Olley Art Centre and is a beautiful building aesthetically.
Angus has a comprehensive art practice and the exhibition encompasses oil painting, gouache, photography and prints. It extends from Renaissance – style realism to mosaics composed of polaroid photographs to abstraction. The work varies in size from small works on board (15 x 20 cm) to huge canvases (200 x 225 cm) and is presented and curated beautifully.
I found it difficult to look past the incredible ‘Rise’ (see the image of the work in process below) – an enormous and arresting oil on canvas of a woman squatting/crouching on the back of a sofa (when I write it like that, the subject sounds mundane, but it is anything but mundane in the flesh!). In fact the woman appears to be naked except for her jewellery – a crucifix is prominent, she is beautiful but exudes emotion – suffering or maybe fear. The sofa is covered in drapery in pure white – metres and metres of it, and the painting of this is amazing, so realistic you almost want to touch and rearrange it!
There is another large canvas – ‘Pieta’ which is also arresting – you cannot help but think of Michelangelo’s sculpture in St Peters. It is very interesting – completely finished and realistic at the top, but as your gaze descends, you realise there are deliberately unfinished elements in the work. At first I felt unsure about this, but it has stayed with me and has touched a personal nerve – I have a son who is about the same age and looks very like the image of the sacrificial man. I found myself identifying with the grief of the Madonna figure as she holds her dead son. For me now the unfinished elements resonate with emotion and loss. As Angus says in his artist statement; ‘It deals with loss and senseless death occasioned by fearful violence and prejudice. This is a lesson we are as yet unable to learn as a race’.
There is also calm and peace and serenity; in the still life works – my favourite being ‘Bowl’ and in the intriguing ‘Wake’ – a mosaic of polaroid photographs and then a flock of doves in frames. I liked the purple/pink ‘Dove III’ with it’s unusual colour and movement.
Go along and have a look at the exhibition yourself, it’s definitely worth seeing!
Website and images here: http://www.angusmcdonald.com.au