Artificial Kingdom

Artificial Kingdom

Megan Ellen MacDonald

From April 1st to April 30th
Opening April 1st, 2016 from 6-9pm

There is a movement in the air, with young contemporary artists turning their technical gaze back to pre-modernist techniques. Artists including Megan Ellen Macdonald, Keita Morimoto, and Stephen Appleby Barr, are all tackling highly representational, although with a dose of fantasy, subjects with an extreme precision. Of course, the Internet and its prevalence of many Artificial Kingdoms plays a major role in driving the content and imaginations of these astute contemporary artists. Artificial Kingdom, the current body of work by Canadian artist Megan Ellen MacDonald, documents and presents a world that only exists as fragments of shared cultural experience, memory, and desire. Reflecting on Celeste Olalquiaga’s book of the same title, MacDonald focuses her lens on the connection between kitsch and fantasy, and its inherent ability to allude to the world of the imaginary. Wielding an eclectic mix of academic painting techniques within the work, MacDonald creates a false surface through the alchemical illusion of light, form, and atmosphere achieved in the process of painting. This technical homage allows for an acknowledgement of the predecessors intent in historical painting, but also provides the appropriate platform to explore the themes relevant to her generation and contemporary culture.

MacDonald’s narrative structure borrows subject matter, themes, and symbolism from several eras of classical painting and presents them alongside elements of still-life and iconic cultural tropes, reimagining them as part of a greater contemporary feminine mythology. The supernatural mythos that is becoming interwoven into the feminine experience through popular culture allows the subjects of the work; felines, kitschy ceramics, and still life references, to transcend their original meaning of passivity, domesticity, and comfort. In Artificial Kingdom, a porcelain teacup obtains the potential to serve as a vessel of magic, cats become Gainsborough-esque figures that tower over the landscape, and a nocturne painting, typically experienced as dark and morose, is bathed in punchy neon light. Kitsch, feminism, and the supernatural converge to create spaces and narratives that engage subversively with the history of painting in a subtle but intentional reorganization of contemporary femininity.