Neil MacDonald: Recent Paintings
November 4, 2006 - December 15, 2006

Artist Biography
Neil MacDonald
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Lives and works in Stow, OH





2001    M.F.A. Painting, Kent State University, Kent, OH

1981    B.F.A. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, OH




2016    Pilgrimage, SHAHEEN modern and contemporary art, Cleveland, OH

2014    Baroque in Scale, SHAHEEN modern and contemporary art, Cleveland, OH

2010    History Paintings, SHAHEEN modern and contemporary art, Cleveland, OH

2008    Dreamland: Recent Paintings by Neil MacDonald, Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH 

2006    Recent Paintings, SHAHEEN modern and contemporary art, Cleveland, OH

2004    Collision with Terrain, The Cleveland Foundation, Cleveland, OH

2003    Collision with Terrain, SHAHEEN modern and contemporary art, Cleveland, OH





2011    Nexts, Centennial Alumni Exhibition II, Kent State University, Kent, OH

            Moving On, Kent State University Graduate Painting Alumni, Kent State University, Kent, OH

2007    Side By Side, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH

            Neointegrity, curated by Keith Mayerson, Derek Eller Gallery, New York, NY

2005    Topographic, SPACES, Cleveland, OH

2002    Selections from the Viewing Room, Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles, CA

2000    Works on Paper Competition (Jury Award Recipient), John J. McDonough Museum, Youngstown, OH

1999    63rd Annual Mid-Year Exhibition, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH




Neil MacDonald's "Dreamland" exhibition on display at Akron Art Museum, Dan Tranberg, Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 2009

Neil MacDonald (capsule review), Zachary Lewis, Cleveland Scene, November 2006

Topographic (capsule review), Zachary Lewis, Cleveland Scene, February 2005

Artists play on familiar landscapes in Spaces show, Dan Tranberg, Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 2005




Press Releases
Neil MacDonald: Recent Paintings


Recent Paintings

November 4th - December 15th, 2006


SHAHEEN Modern and Contemporary Art is delighted to announce an exhibition of recent paintings by Kent based artist Neil MacDonald.  There will be an opening reception for the artist on Saturday, November 4th from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.  The exhibition will continue through December 15th.


Since late 1999, the majority of Neil MacDonald's softly focused representational paintings have concerned various airline disasters of the past 20-25 years. He has titled this ongoing inquiry/body of work Collision with Terrain, which refers to the National Transportation Safety Board's official term for an airline crash site. MacDonald is not concerned with sensationalized scenes of violent death but, rather, peripheral moments from the aftermath and cleanup of the various disasters in question.  Working from his own photographs of video footage, the artist translates carefully selected images to canvas (and sometimes linen) via a meticulous painting process that involves the methodical deconstruction and reconstruction of original source material.  MacDonald pours over video; stills a desired image on screen; takes a 35 mm snapshot, and then works from that photograph; along the way, he might subject the image to any number of simple low-tech manipulations, such as enlarging, reducing or cropping using a Xerox machine/photo-copier.  From there, he grids off the canvas and transposes the image in an even-handed and systematic manner. Neither sentimental nor nihilistic, the resulting paintings depict a very traditional, romantic or Arcadian landscapes that have been forever transformed by  the consequences and eerily calm aftermath of mechanical error and human failure.  MacDonald's formal approach to painting and working process involve a certain control -- loss of control tension that echoes the subject matter itself.


For his upcoming exhibition at SHAHEEN, MacDonald turns his attention away from the "Collision with Terrain" series, choosing instead to apply the same working process and formal and thematic interests to the investigation of environmental mishaps and disasters, which he views as a more omnipresent threat with more drastic and lasting consequences for the landscape and its inhabitants.  One recent group of paintings concerns Centralia Borough, an all but abandoned town in rural Pennsylvania that has been forever changed (if not subtly decimated) by an underground coal fire that has raged beneath its visible landscape for the past thirty years.  Another cycle of work takes as its subject matter the Union Carbide explosion in Bhopal India.  In both cases, MacDonald continues to his ongoing inquiry into human error and mechanical failure and their effects on the landscape. 



Neil MacDonald - capsule review / Cleveland Scene

Capsule review

Article Published Nov 29, 2006

Cleveland Scene

Neil MacDonald -- There's so much to savor about these landscapes by the Kent painter, it's hard to know where to begin. First there's MacDonald's unusual subject matter: environmental disasters, which represent a slight adjustment from his earlier interest in airplane crashes. Now MacDonald is capturing the tragic essence of wastelands like Chernobyl, Bhopal, India, and Centralia, Pennsylvania (where coal mines burn beneath the streets). But he's doing so in a strangely powerful manner, by focusing on random, fringe areas that wouldn't seem to be interesting on the surface. In Chernobyl, the sparseness is almost oppressive. Then there's MacDonald's source material. All the scenes are based on stills from actual video footage. Transferred to canvas, they crackle with grainy, you-are-there realism, as if the tragedy were still unfolding -- and in some cases, it is. Finally, there's his technique, a professional version of paint-by-numbers within a grid that simultaneously reveals the subtlety of MacDonald's hand and pays homage to more advanced principles of Impressionism and Cubism. The grid itself has meaning too, mirroring the order nature imposes onto chaos. And like the tragedies themselves, these paintings come into clearest focus when viewed from a distance. All these elements combine most effectively in the Bhopal images, depicting the mass confusion in the wake of a toxic gas leak that killed and disabled thousands. Nothing's distinct. The only things visible within the sea of brown skin tones are splotches of vibrant red, orange, and white. Whether these are robes or flames almost doesn't matter. The sense of profound suffering is the same. Through December 15 at Shaheen Modern and Contemporary Art, 740 W. Superior Ave. Suite 101, 216-830-8888, -- Lewis


Neil MacDonald
Bhopal Recovery #1, 2006
Oil on canvas
24 x 24 inches

Neil MacDonald
Centralia Borough #1, 2005
Oil on canvas
36 x 48 inches

Neil MacDonald
Centralia Dead End, 2005
oil on canvas
15 x 20 inches

Neil MacDonald
Centralia Rupture, 2005
oil on canvas
20 x 26 inches

Neil MacDonald
Centralia 450C, 2005
oil on canvas
36 x 48 inches

Neil MacDonald
Bhopal Recovery No. 4, 2006
oil on canvas
32 x 48 inches