Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Mick McGinty: Woodpile With Wildflowers


An idyllic scene is captured on the canvas. It tempts the viewer with the magical bright light and the colorful unconstrained growth. Or so it seems: the logs certainly indicate a constraint imposed on the forest flora. The artist does not judge; he seems to keep to the role of the observer, and consequently offers his observation to the people. However, by avoiding judgment himself, he elicits it from the viewer -- possibly a conscious downplaying strategy that schemes to make the viewer (an urban homo sapiens) ponder a future ecological disaster, if only by juxtaposing the painted luxuriance with the rarity of occasions of actually witnessing it.

But there are more evident ambiguities to consider, and to interpret. The disposition of the logs near a growing tree may imply deforestation on the one hand, but, a moderate, controlled cutting that would benefit the forest on the other. This dichotomy is emphasized by the erection the logs construct: it is unclear whether it is a stable or a shaky structure. Perhaps a single slight push will start a rolling chain reaction -- causing uncontrollable destruction, -- or, the wood will remain immovable, -- rendering the cutting a contained micro damage, done for the greater good.

Perhaps, this is not an idyll. This painting may serve better as a warning, of either a utopia, or a dystopia. The problem is that humans can hardly deal with both. Considering the dynamics of the composition, with the flowers populating the foreground, and the neatly stacked logs delineating a smooth slope, I imagine that the artist tends towards the more optimistic outcome, if only tentatively. The light breaks the black hues in the background, generously washing the forest: if only things were more simple, and we could just relish nature without any politics involved! And so, we are at the outset again -- the artist doesn't judge. But it is too easy to forget that this is not his prerogative. Sometimes, it is nice to waiver that important right, if only for a few minutes, and simply enjoy the scenery.

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