Prototype | Ted McKinlay
Opening: Friday 25th October 6.30-8.30pm
Exhibition: 25th October - 3rd November
One stands before Ted McKinlay’s pastel drawings as before an attractive but vexing puzzle. The first look reveals a complex and pleasurable assemblage of line, shape and colour, which gives way to a nagging feeling that you’re not getting it all. This is because the shapes are not always defined and the planes intimate things hidden, as though concealed within a stereogram. What we really see is a painstaking negotiation between the artist and the very terms on which representation is grounded.
McKinlay’s drawings explore an optic space between figuration and abstraction, between the mark that renders something definite and the two-dimensional surface into which it disappears. He brings a single-minded focus to questions of form: How do we break the picture plane? How do spacial properties intersect in the shaping of something? Does light articulate or dissolve? How can an object disappear behind another without pushing it so far back as to lose its relationship to other things? Does colour create tonal depth? (Why do shadows so often have a green or blue hue?)
And from this arise questions of meaning. What is the point of figuration today? Why do we still see ourselves and our architectural structures as belonging to a landscape when our forms of social organisation are antithetical to the landscape as a living system? In the face of climate heating and an incipient mass-extinction how if it all can we move beyond the narrow epistemic lens of the anthropocene? The obvious beauty in these images — their careful arrangement of colour and shape — exposes nagging questions that are resolved in your or my opinion but never in themselves. In a sense these questions are perennial and it’s how McKinlay approaches them which matters. It’s that he grapples with them like a mongrel and refuses to let go. Whether he settles them or not is missing the point.