Angus McDonald

11 – 30 March

Tim Olsen Gallery


I have been drawing and printmaking with cattle ever since I began art school. There is a long history of equine art, but bovine art has been around forever.

The bovine drawings, the grandiose primordial beasts of paleolithic art which can be seen at places like Lascaux in France, were done more than 16,000 years ago. I have been there and seen the thundering procession of weightless animals. The drawings are stripped back, quintessentially bull like, and beautifully observed. As renderings they are pure. To me, they are very close to the most noble bovine depictions ever done.

In some ways primitive drawing and sculpture has never been surpassed. Because of its objective simplicity and lack of adornment, much of humanity’s early art is highly emotive and transcends the cultural norms that influenced their meaning at the time.

The Minoan civilisation based in Crete after the Neolithic period, around 3000 BC, also had the bull as a central figure in daily and ritual life. During that period, a huge amount of art featuring bulls was produced. The Minotaur, the half beast/half man, was a Greek mythylogical figure that Picasso used often much later. Like Picasso, Goya also was interested in the Bull and the bullfight. His etching cycle of floating dream bulls had a large impact on me when I was younger.

In each piece I make with the bull or horse as subject, I am trying to find an essence that reveals a kind of honesty and strength that I perceive to be reflective of their particular sensibilities. It’s a romantic notion to some extent, but it is true to me.

I read a lot of Hemingway as an art student; originally because his brief, direct writing style attracted me hugely from a stylistic standpoint; essentially, I decided that I wanted to paint the same way that he wrote. However, as much of his writings concerned bullfighting, I was also drawn into that story, that piece of Spanish theatre which resonates much more as an idea about the nature of existence than it does in its bloody reality. Eventually I formed views about the bull and the horse. I became aware of the notion that through much of humanity’s development, both these animals have been there beside us. They have witnessed passively all our trials and tribulations as we have evolved over thousands of years. Through this silent journey so near to us, they must have a secret bank of wisdom and knowledge that we can only imagine but never understand.

Snort !! is a collection of drawings, paintings, etchings, objects, new furniture and sculpture.

Angus McDonald 2007

Angus McDonald SNORT !!