Interview: Alan MacDonald

Man who is talking too much

Alan MacDonald malt Bilder, die wirken, als sei Rembrandt mit einer Zeitmaschine unterwegs, um Songzitate, Konsumprodukte und andere Zeichen der Moderne einzusammeln. Seine Figuren sind, wie er selbst sagt, aus der Zeit gerissene, seltsam verlorene Gestalten, die durch die Vermengung mit völlig unerwarteten modernen Elementen gleichzeitig melancholisch und witzig wirken.

Im Interview erfuhr ich einiges über seine Arbeitsweise und die Zusammenhänge zwischen europäisch geprägter Kunst und einer Kindheit in Afrika.

The Past

…to this date, that buzz has never left me.

Diskursdisko: Hi Alan. To start things off, what’s your background? When did you start  painting?

Alan MacDonald: The artistic light first went on for me when I was twelve. A new boy came into my class at school and showed me drawings that he had done. They were in pencil, really dark and beautifully realistic. I was stunned and filled with a desire to do the same myself, and to this date, that buzz has never left me.

The Art

…it is the sense of other-worldliness that imbues the work, the feeling of someone lost, out of time.

Marathon Man

Diskursdisko: How do you mainly produce your art?

Alan MacDonald: In the earlier years, I experimented with all kinds of media and ways to paint, but in the end I settled on oil paint because of its versatility and luminosity. I think that it is because of this luminosity that it lends itself to the creation of dark images. For smaller paintings, I work on board, and for larger work I paint on linen.

Diskursdisko: What inspires you?

Alan MacDonald: I am inspired by any number of things. Sometimes if I am at an impasse, I will do an AltaVista black and white image search and put something like ‘north’ in, to see where it takes me. I am inspired by artists as diverse as Goya, Rachael Whiteread, Titian and Anthony Gormley. I am inspired by everyday life.

Diskursdisko: Your artwork fuses classical painting reminiscent of Rembrandt with  
modern objects and plays on words – how did you develop this style?

Alan MacDonald: I don’t set out to look like Rembrandt or Titian, I just like dark images. Painting images of people in period-looking clothing happened naturally too. At first I did it because it just seemed right, but I now realise that it is the sense of other-worldliness that imbues the work, the feeling of someone lost, out of time. The modern objects serve to reinforce this.

Night Rider

Diskursdisko: You were born in Malawi, in Central Africa, but your art has a very classic european style – do you feel african art has influenced you in any way?

Stereotyped ManAlan MacDonald: If I think about it, I probably have been influenced by African toys like wire cars and their sense of fun and attention to detail, and I guess that I like western farm animals because they seemed so exotic to me when I visited the UK! I left Malawi for the UK when I was 13, just after the ‘light’ had been ignited, so the flames were kindled by European, rather than African influences.

Diskursdisko: A lot of your artwork is humorous in its juxtaposition of images and text or through the use of surprising objects from other contexts. How do you feel about the relationship between “serious art” and humour?

Alan MacDonald: I think that humour in art is a very modern and subversive thing, and I am very serious about being funny! Modern comedians, through their humour, explore issues that they have with society, or political ineptitudes. By putting what otherwise might be a difficult or dull subject in a funny way, makes it more approachable and palatable. By laughing we register our agreement. It is very important, I think, for an artist to be true to themselves. The influences we’ve been brought up with, whether it be a rock song or can of coke, are all relevant. The trick is in choosing the best bits, that is, the bits that have a timeless quality about them.

The Web

I use AltaVisa to find reference or to spark off ideas that are fresh and new, but mostly I look inwards for my inspiration.

Crow's Nest

Diskursdisko: You’ve obviously got the website at alanmacdonald.net, any other presences on the web you’d like to publicize? Social networking?

Alan MacDonald: Axis Web is a great site and I have work on there.

Diskursdisko: As you use the internet to showcase your art, are there any other websites you feel have influenced you, opened your mind or shown you new ways of creating art?

Alan MacDonald: As I mentioned earlier, I use AltaVisa to find reference or to spark off ideas that are fresh and new, but mostly I look inwards for my inspiration.

Diskursdisko: Of all the work you’ve created, or at least the ones showcased on your website, can you name a couple that you have a special love for or connection to?

Alan MacDonald: ‘Black Betty’ is a favourite as she was a sort of celebration of darkness in painting, and maybe something like ‘Crows Nest’ as it was a painting that went on and on without being resolved. I never, however, gave up on it and after a great deal of time, I was finally able to complete it.

The Future

…to go where the inspiration takes me and to try and get better.

Diskursdisko: Do you have any specific plans for the future direction of your artwork?

Alan MacDonald: I don’t have any specific plans, except to go where the inspiration takes me and to try and get better.

Diskursdisko: Alan, many thanks for the interview – is there anything you’d like to add?

Alan MacDonald: Just to say thanks for your interest and for taking the time to come up with some thought-provoking questions. I enjoyed answering them; hope that they serve to enlighten the work.

Drug Run

Vincent Wilkie hat diesen tollen Beitrag verfasst. In seiner Freizeit ist er Musiker, Webdesigner und DJ.

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