Andrew McDonald at Castlefield Gallery 28th April – 11th June
‘I lose myself in the process of drawing, an escape from the world, but the end result, an art work, is the opposite – a confrontation with the world’ – Andrew McDonald 2016
Let’s begin by saying that this exhibition of animation art by Andrew McDonald is a must see. You cannot see from photographs, the animation in action…obviously! But it is in seeing the work that you can begin to understand the attention to detail, the work that has gone into the work to produce such minutely detailed pieces.
McDonald often puts himself in the place of his animation subjects, tied to a swivel chair, or climbing various fences, all to make him aware of how his subjects move and react to their surrounding. That the works have a dark side is, for me at least, incontrovertible. The recurrent theme is of being trapped, and the need is to escape. Even in the second of the new works in Fence/Hammock 2017, despite the scene looking idyllic, man sleeping in a hammock in garden setting, the man is troubled. Perhaps he is dreaming as his arms seem to repeatedly flail as if trying to escape from something or someone. There is also the feeling that the garden is slowly surrounding him, accentuating the closed in, trapped feeling to the work.
In the ‘Fence’ animation the figure with a bandana covering the lower part of their face appears from behind a large concrete block and climbs the fence, not without much effort, and once over disappears into the forest only to reappear and begin over again. The theme of constantly being trapped, unable to escape in a nightmarish version of a kind of groundhog day, and is very much like watching the recent news coverage of refugee’s trying to escape from war, or famine and come to Europe.
When talking to McDonald I became even more aware of his attention to detail, which extended to the fact that the floor of the gallery’s lower level had ‘cracks’ which flowed toward the figures, thereby extending the artwork into its surroundings, and guiding the viewer into the space inhabited by his troubled figures. I also asked the significance of the number 3 on the concrete block. McDonald admitted that there wasn’t one. We then discussed whether the number 6 would have been appropriate. The cult figure from the 60’s TV series The Prisoner, which we had both seen, seemed to suit the theme of Fence, in particular, and the recurrent theme of being back where you started. It’s a mark of this very talented, approachable and engaging artist, that he thought that perhaps it would indeed have been appropriate.
Take some time out to see this thought-provoking, at times disturbing, exhibition. You wont be disappointed.
Andrew McDonald Solo Exhibition – until 11th June 2017 at Castlefield Gallery Manchester