Dreamland: Recent Paintings by Neil MacDonald

Judith Bear Isroff Gallery

Neil MacDonald’s hauntingly beautiful paintings touch on expansive themes of modern-day life such as the desire for connectedness, the need to explain the unexplainable and the wish to understand our place in the cosmos. His art examines the ways in which modern-day myths are often fabricated out of thin air and then evolve and spread within our society. MacDonald, who lives in Stow, Ohio, earned a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1982 and an MFA in Painting from Kent State University in 2001. Inspired by the media’s way of shaping the information we receive about the outside world, MacDonald obtains his source imagery by snapping photographs of the television screen or printing images from the internet. The Akron Art Museum will present two recent bodies of work, Roswell and Apophenia. Both series exploit the separation from reality that the media cultivates. MacDonald views Roswell as the perfect opportunity to observe a myth in the making. The Roswell Incident (1947) involved the recovery and subsequent seizure by the U.S. Government of what was believed by many civilians to be material from a UFO. For MacDonald, this event has all the trappings of a myth: demons, heroes, true believers, worship and a story that has changed over time. In this series, Macdonald offers different views of the Roswell phenomenon, ranging from UFO imagery to alien festivals and UFO landing pads. Apophenia is the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. In this series, MacDonald removes the story to create paintings that seem to have recognizable imagery but actually picture the disintegration of an image on a television screen. We cannot resist the urge to scrutinize the painting for something discernable and ultimately to see something that isn’t there. It is this human tendency to try to understand things that have no obvious explanation that Macdonald explores through his art. Dreamland: Recent Paintings by Neil MacDonald is organized by the Akron Art Museum and made possible by a generous gift from The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.