The show includes these two works by Gordon MacDonald. We asked Gordon to write a few words about each work. Here is what he said.
|"Companion", 48" x 48", Oil on canvas.|
This work was intended to be only a landscape. I was interested in how a plane's contrails interact visually with stratus clouds. When the painting was done, it still seemed to need something else. When this happens, I usually stare at the painting for as long as it takes until that "something else" occurs to me. That didn't work. Then, without a second thought, I picked up a brush, took a sparse amount of paint and dragged it up the center. Then a second time. It looked like two ghosts looking away from the viewer toward my focal point. After starting a landscape painting, a whole new narrative and direction got added after the fact. Not knowing why the two figures were there or what to call the painting, I continued to sit with it. Both in childhood and as an adult, I've often stood and stared at the sky. It finally occured to me a few days later: maybe they are both me and it's actually a self-portrait. Others have found different meaning from this painting and I won't talk them out of it. In the end, it's about the viewer and the painting; I'm no longer part of it.
|"The Woman from Everywhere" 16" x 20" , Oil on board|
I started with a question. If I had to describe a typical woman on the planet earth, what would she look like?
With all the unrealistic depictions we see, what would be "acceptable" as a possible representation? When we see those negative, unrealistic depictions of women we are never shown alternatives. Nothing gets defined by negatives. Just by painting a woman with dark/black hair, 90% of the women on the planet are included. (Ok, plenty have grey hair). So, I needed a model with black hair in her mid- 20's who I thought would represent my narrative. Someone I had met at NSCAD fit the scenario, and I knew she would understand and work with the idea.
For me, painting a person takes time. Not the rendering, that takes very little. It's the last 5 % that can take 90% of the time. It's staring, moving things by millimeters, editing out,changing light, simplifying things (hair is a mass, not strands). As it gets more and more subtle, it can turn into something I may not have conceived of originally. I'm fine with that as long as its better. At some point I no longer control the end result -- only whether some aspect is preventing the finish.Sure enough, the painting I was working on DID become something else. It occurred to me: it's not about my original narrative, but one about race, or in this case, a complete absence of race. As I worked on it, I realized her parents could be middle eastern, European,Indian, South American, Native American, African American/Japanese, Jewish, Swedish, Scottish,Ojibway, Mexican. The image that appeared, was of someone that could be from anywhere or The Woman From Everywhere.