Davy Macdonald is a local, self-taught artist living and working in Edinburgh. He has just successfully completed his first solo exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery, where he showed a collection of his striking and original oil paintings.
Macdonald is fascinated by the female form and his works comprise an intoxicating and at times challengingly erotic mix of stark imagery, usually featuring a single female figure lit to accentuate tonal contrasts, dimension and form. His paintings have a naive style which echo the works of artists such as Gaugin or Kahlo, particularly in those in which his figures are placed within symbolic, dreamlike landscapes.
His older works are a series of studies painted from life or from photographic or imagined sources, and often depict pin-up models or current-day burlesque artistes. His fascination with this subject matter stems from a long-held interest in such acts as the Zeigfeld Follies and his appreciation of the genre’s style is obvious as it permeates nearly every work on display.
Macdonald smiles as he recalls his first forays into painting, eagerly carrying his equipment to an evening class in life drawing at Edinburgh Art College 18 years ago. Sitting at the front of the class expectantly, he remembers his embarrassed discomfort as the young female life model unwrapped herself inches from where he was positioned. “I sat there with a massive beamer!” he laughed. “But the art tutor was fantastic and immediately came up to me and told me to relax. And I’ve never looked back.” Indeed, when Macdonald returned to another evening class at the same art college some years later, he found himself dishing out the same wisdom as his mentor to other red-faced newcomers.
Such awkwardness is a distant memory for Macdonald now, as is obvious from his latest works: a series of bold and alluring nudes placed in colourful, evocative landscapes inspired by passages from Dante’s Divine Comedy. He is keen to progress this series and also use it as an opportunity to evolve his range further. “I’d like to move away from single figure studies”, he told me. “I’m keen to use the other characters in Dante’s work to compose paintings featuring several figures – in fact, I may advertise on my website for models and photograph them in poses that I can use to paint larger, more involved works.”
If these are as well executed as the rest of Macdonald’s striking pieces, he – like Dante himself – is in for an interesting journey and I look forward to observing how his art develops along this fascinating and original path.
Keep up to date on Davy’s work on his website at www.dmacart.com