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Artist Statement

Painting helps me to engage with people and our world. It gives me a voice (Plutarch spoke of painting as “silent poetry”) with which to reflect upon the things that matter, and to make some sense of life amid all its contradictions.

I am fascinated by the notion of personhood, or our “human condition”. It is a subject with a long pedigree of enquiry, from the ancient Greek poets to the human genome project. At one level, in a Shakespearean sense, we are both great and fallen:

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on” .

In our unguarded moments, we sense that we are all more than just the sum of our parts. But we are also “only human”.

As a lyrical figurative artist, my challenge is to paint contemporary stories in a way that speaks with hope and dignity, without recourse to sentimental naivete or pessimistic sarcasm.

I am inspired by everyday vignettes- people at a café, a dance rehearsal, the fall of light on a statue. I like to uncover, in everyday situations, the intersection of the profound with the commonplace: the wonder of small moments. Currently, this intersection is explored through the surprising or subversive juxtaposition of images. The images call attention to the longing we sometimes experience for beauty, justice, and genuine community. These longings are themselves not random, but rather are pointers to higher things, and echoes of a deeper music.

Ian McGilvray

August 2018