Saturday, August 11, 2007

Mick McGinty: Citrus on Tile


This, in a way, is a tamed version of the Sliced Tomato. The fruits are intact, the droplets are of water, and the surface consists of clean, sterile kitchen tiles. Being so different by way of contrast, this painting also sheds the symbolism: it radiates spontaneity. As often happens in such cases, the effect is disarming and endearing. I have often wondered how artists make their still life so -- well, simply put, -- how they make it so cute, triggering human affection, which usually is directed towards the animate, for instance, pets.

I think that every interpreter harbors a subconscious drive to personify and assign human activities to depicted still objects. In this case, the two lemons snuggle up together: for comfort, or fear of the proceedings, or to gossip on that lonely orange, all bright and stuck-up. This is one of the strengths of the visual arts, to enliven a fruit or a vegetable and raise it to the level of a soul possessing object. The genre speaks for itself: there is the "still," but then, there is also the "life." Perhaps the goal of every painter is to understate the former and to bring out the latter.

By placing the fruit in the kitchen, while leaving out any tools or containers, the artist once again evades a clear sub-generic categorization. This is neither a decorative, nor an obvious practical setting. Possibly, the lemons and the orange have been washed to be further transferred to a living room crystal bowl -- but, possibly, they are to be eaten right away. By keeping the viewer guessing, the artist reminds us that individual objects can be enjoyed visually regardless of the scenery. He invests into mobility within the genre, and thus reflects real world dynamics and its infinite possibilities. It is always interesting to know what happens just before of whatever happens. In a way, the artist manipulates time just as he manipulates space.

This piece speaks geometry. The surface is divided into squares, while the oval citruses form a triangle. Realistic delivery and simple, but effective composition, in the traditional pyramid form, allow for a calm first impression. But, as in other McGinty's paintings, the initial reaction might not be the most revealing. And it is the basic pictorial device of varying geometrical forms that secures meaningful consequent viewings. Ultimately, the artist targets the audience's artistic and imaginative faculties, requiring active viewing. I admire this kind of talent: the one that brings out the talents of other people.

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