The devolution of tradition cannot take place except in the presence of tradition. This is a paraphrase of a line from Clement Greenberg’s 1955 essay ‘American-Type Painting’, which I found particularly striking in a contemporary context of identity tradition and political inertia here. More broadly, we live in times of crises within political representation, national identities and social contest. The five paintings and slide show I have made for this exhibition call into question what, if anything, is representable in painting today. I find myself constantly reminded of the American abstract painter Ad Reinhardt’s cartoon, in which a self-satisfied businessman points at an abstract painting, laughing: “What does this represent?” In the next frame, the painting points back angrily at him, declaring: “What do you represent?”
Painters look at other painters’ work for ways to move forward. Previously when working as an image-type painter, I conversely looked more at abstract painting than anything else. Now, as an abstract-type painter, I have been looking a lot at Alex Katz, who in turn looked a lot at Fairfield Porter. I like Katz’s notion of painting ‘an immediate present’, which for me at the moment can only be expressed in abstract terms.
Dougal McKenzie studied at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, Scotland, (BA Hons Fine Art); 1986- 90; University of Ulster at Belfast, Northern Ireland, (MA Fine Art) 1990-91. He was co-director at Catalyst Arts, Belfast, 1994-96 and lecturer in Painting at Limerick School of Art and Design, 1997-2003. Currently he is lecturer in painting at Belfast School of Art, Ulster University and a studio holder and Board member at PS².
Venue: PS², Spencer House, 71 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1FE
Date: Wednesday 27 February
Film screening: Policeday, 1976 followed by artist talk.
Free and all welcome.
Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 12.00-4.00pm
For more information: www.pssquared.org/Dougal McKenzie.php
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07733457772
PS² is supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.