Off The Wall

Ewan McDougall
Nov 14 to Dec 4

Ewan McDougall’s palette is loud and lurid, a Neo-Expressionist, each work is informed by the self - his life experiences and ideas. The paintings are aggressive, unruly, compelling, and fresh.

Poet David Eggleton once proclaimed, in Ewan McDougall: Paintings, that McDougall works in a way similar to an eviscerator or a vivisector. It is the energy that McDougall paints with, the dynamism that brings the life to the work.

Further explanation about the artist’s influences and approach is perhaps best left to McDougall,

‘When I was young and growing up in Oamaru my parents would often point to the door and say, “come back at tea time!” Me and my brothers and friends would take off in wild abandon and play in the sea at Friendly Bay, in the myriad of caves along the foot of Cape Wanbrow, catch Red Cod off the wharf and swim in the harbour. Later on there were rafts to be built and leakily launched in the creek, pinecone fights to be engaged in with other boys, and bike marathons to Gemmel’s Crossing when you could still swim in an unpolluted river.

Then later at Otago University while partying and playing Rock ‘n’ Roll in the psychedelic 60s, the same wild abandon reared its head. And although this adventure became misadventure, I treasure this freedom now.

My painting with its spontaneity, wildness and feverish application of vibrant jarring colour, is fused with this sense of delicious freedom. My figures are ‘in your face’ and carved out of crude vibrant impasto, dancing with joy and revelling in the cacophony, as if in some happily deranged cave painting.’

Feverish, joyful, spontaneous and, not least, wildly free - these qualities are evident in Mad Bastard. The grinning figure looks out to the viewer from a scarlet landscape with his teeth bared. It appears dually ecstatic and confrontational. Whether his arms are raised in protest or celebration is uncertain. This is a dichotomy seen in much of McDougall’s works, as noted again by Eggleton, the figures and creatures seem at once vulnerable and aggressive, pathetic and amusing.

A fulltime painter since 1988, his work is held in many public and private collections throughout New Zealand. ‘Off the Wall’ is McDougall’s sixty-seventh solo show and embodies this love of freedom, excitement, and colour.