Rhys Coren at Seventeen Gallery and Peter McDonald at Kate MacGarry, March 2017

Rhys Coren

‘Whistle Bump Super Strut’

An altogether different experience for me – this work was fun and youthful and had a cheeky freshness to it. Most of the work felt an investigation of colour, energy, shape. The titles were humorous, almost like slogans or film names. It was all contemporary and new. The thing I was most interested in was Coren’s process. The production of his work looks to be labour intensive and with a great need for precision. I assume that the board is cut in sections and then sprayed the appropriate colours. There was great attention to detail, for example, the shadows below what looks like a ‘P’ shape and the balance between the forms and shapes. The pieces look incredibly simple and yet, I can imagine the pared down forms take much work and investigation to be created.

It wasn’t an exhibition I spent long in – there wasn’t much to contemplate on a deep level – it felt like a refresher, an uplift, a celebration of youth.

Peter McDonald

‘Mushrooms of Language’

Kate McGarry Gallery

Immediately I am interested in this work – the inspiration comes from an essay by Henry Munn in the book Hallucinogens and Shamanism (ed. Michael J. Harner, Oxford University Press 1973) about the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms among the Mazatec Indians of Mexico to achieve trance states for perceiving and contacting the supernatural world.

These vivid, graphic-style paintings osscilate between frivolous and intense, serious and sad, delightful and almost spiritual. The opaque nature of gouache is used to great effect – the vast swathes of colour in the bigger pieces have real impact. The strangely shaped heads set keep me out of my comfort zone, I am standing amidst a surreal world of a dream-like state, almost as though I am in someone’s imagination and thoughts.

The information sheet states ‘This duality of expansion and dislocation is critical to McDonald’s work. He locates pictorial space beyond rational logic…..McDonad’s use of intense colour and universal subject matter describes a realm which balances lucid realism with vivid distortions filled with references to modern life..’


I particularly enjoyed seeing the collection of 37 pieces that were presented together (works on paper). These depicted many different scenes and together they had a really strong energy – there was a cohesion and also a feeling that I was being taken on a journey. I engage with each of the figures in the paintings as if they are me – the every day quality of the subject matter allows the viewer to bypass any barriers they have to engaging with the work and it, therefore, becomes a mirror about one’s own life in a similar way to the work of Emma Talbot.


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