Views on McLoughlin's work - from collectors and visitors.
Henri Lafayette, PhD
I had a great discussion with Phil and Poppy in the bar at a conference a few years back. Only now have I got round to catching up with 'McLoughlin'.
We were squabbling about 'reality' and whether or not anyone could say that they 'understood' what the term meant. Einstein's famous quip about 'reality being an illusion, if a very persistent one' came up in the conversation, if I rightly recall. Having seen Phil's work (albeit not in 'reality' only through the web) I think I have a different sense of what they were talking about - and maybe what Einstein meant too.
These works seem so 'real' in their 'unreality' that I am jerked to another level of thinking - both about what these pictures might be about - and about the nature of reality itself.
Thanks for keeping me awake at night. Thanks a lot!.
I saw the show at the Biscuit Factory in Newcastle. Quite remarkable! Such a variety of imagery yet all were connected by the same haunting beauty. Loved them.
These works are unlike anything else on the contemporary scene.
Dr Columba McLaughlin: "Wonderful, insightful, inspiring and thought provoking
art. I have known Phil for most of my adult life. He has been a friend
and a mentor to me. Why am I not surprised that he still astonishes me
now as an artist?"
Dr Alec Grant: I've known Phil over several mutual incarnations. He's a pal.
He also astonishes. Me, at any rate. I once stood in front of
Caravaggio's The Taking of Christ, in Dublin. I lost an hour. It was a
numinous experience. Phil's work is on a par with it in my opinion. It's
beautiful. To paraphrase Banksie, art should disturb the comfortable
and comfort the disturbed. I'm a member of the latter group
(hopefully), and Phil's work does that for me. When I'm not in
mini-numinousity with it, I'm 5 years old, it's 1957 and I'm reading
'The Broons'. Viva D.C. Thompson; viva Dundee; and viva McLoughlin!
John (Jock) Cunningham: In my view the real function of art is to expose the illusions that serve to conceal humanity's deep sense of solitude. Now, more than ever, we are bombarded by images that try to compensate for our basic aloneness - advertising, social media and the like.Yet we are alone. One way to deal with this fact of life is to find meaning within ourselves. Although these paintings portray 'things' in an illusionistic style, their function seems to be to help us confront our illusions, by inviting us to make sense of what faces us.
Jacqueline Riverstein: Leaving aside the imagery - which is catholic in its proper sense - these painting are (perhaps) a religious art for the faithless. I felt that I had to work hard at being still - almost like being in a church or temple. I read recently that McLoughlin is keen on Rothko. Clearly he shares a similar contemplative intent, tho the work could hardly be more different.
Dorothy Livesedge: Despite their obvious realism these paintings seem to be more about idea of the thing than the thing itself. The illusion is more than just surface deep.
Tom Pennant: These paintings are beautiful and seductive –very commanding presences. They draw you in and captivate. They are made for the solitary viewer. Distant, silent yet making connections at the same time.
Kathleen Nelson Page: I find this kind of work so refreshing. A lot of ‘contemporary’ art is either funfair nonsense or plain nostalgia. These paintings seemed to be aimed at thinking adults, looking for more than just a pleasing object to decorate the office.
Lesley Fraser: What drew me first to this painting ("What do we have?")were the dark colours and the beautiful portrait of Phil McLoughlin. At that point I hadn’t seen a ‘real’ image of the man and realise now how exact it is! Initially it appeared to me to be an image of ‘dark’ meaning – but on looking closer the painting was about relationships and love and hope.
It says to me that what we have in this life is ‘ourself’ - we choose what parts of ‘ourself’ we give to others – more to some, less to others and that these relationships are what we make of them. We may even be lucky enough to find someone with whom we want to dig deeper and share the future!
But there will always be more to me than people know and more to them than I know, and sometimes we have to accept things just for what they are. The painting comforts me and I love seeing it every day.
To me, "the first thought of the day" is a beautiful but sad painting – unused chairs where people once sat – waiting to be useful again - life continues as usual outside – reminds me that life is fleeting! - I should make the most of it.
Craig Fraser: "The first thought of the day" seems quite positive, maybe the users (lovers?) have long since left for sunnier climes
"Altar Scott" brings to mind recent topical subject of Scottish Independence and Alex Salmond and David Cameron discussing independence in Edinburgh! Is Scotland for sale? Nostalgic – Oor Wullie and Irn Bru were a staple diet where I came from… Provokes discussion. Patriotic
Christine Risebrow: "Having this piece of artwork (Altar Peace) in my home gives me pause for thought every time I look at it. In passing, it simply makes me smile with the thoughts of childhood memories evoked by the cartoon page and the plain loaf. The altar cloth takes me to quite another place in my own spiritual journey and the book (to my pursuit of a career in psychotherapy) while pulling together the other items to ask a question about life and how it has been spent and where it will take me. The joy of it is that you can take out of it what you will. The combination of appreciating the skill of the artist and the symbolism that reaches me on such a personal level has left me with a desire to seek out more of Phil McLoughlin's work. "
Paul John Harris Morrison: In "Who's paying for this?' the books, which are about philosophy and theology - perhaps fairly extreme views of both disciplines - are other worldy, as is the crystal ball. The irn bru and the pound note are tangible, these represent the real world. What I guess is up to the viewer is whether or not the window reflected in the crystal ball is offering us a view into the world of the mystical... Or offering us a look at the real world.
Louise Beckett-Gore: "The measure of things" is my 'memento mori painting. It is a witty take on the whole life and death thing. I think that the paint drip is a remarkable comment on the reality of our experience, or otherwise. It is a painting of a paint drip - real and not real at the same time! The shell echoes the skull - both casings for vitality but now beatiful but redundant. The glass box - like the glass marbles - seems to be a metaphor for the forces of life - almost invisible but powerful."
Ivan Dunstable: I find "how long, not long now' to be a very poignant image. Optimistic because of the strong light but sad too - hence the shadow. It feels like a very religious painting, which is odd since I have never been religious myself. Maybe there is a very human spirituality at work here, which has a religious echo in the winding sheet. It draws a lot of very different interpretations.