Source/ Derivations Series

The work of other artists is full of possibilities.
— Allan Harding MacKay

Source Derivations

"No viewer looks at art more closely than artists do. And no artist creates without heavy dependence on other artists' work. The literature often refers to this interlinked chain of art-making as "influences." The word, however, hides as much as it explicates. It is not simply that an artist sees something in another's work which moves him or her. It is that the best artists are always pushing the limits that have been established by artists before them. If you like, each artist sees in the work of his predecessors a challenge, an accomplishment that begs to be examined, reworked and pushed to a new level. But unlike the work of scientists which challenges and, if successful, rejects earlier work, the best artists challenges and yet honours the earlier work by the challenge.

"The Source Derivations series by Allan Harding MacKay is at heart such a challenge. In seven of the eight exhibitions of the series, MacKay has been invited by a gallery to choose a work from a collection and develop an exhibition of his work based on the piece selected (the only exception being Source Derivations I in which the exhibition at the Ottawa School of Art was based on a painting from the collection of the National Gallery of Canada). MacKay has chosen a variety of works both in subject matter and in time, but each, I think, is a searching out of works which force him to see anew and stretch as an artist. He is responding to the works but is also using them as a measure of his own work."

— Terrance Heath, excerpted from the AGNS SD catalogue

"For five years, Ontario artist Allan Harding MacKay has developed a series of collections-based artworks drawn from public gallery collections across the country This year, MacKay comes to work with our own Asian art collection. MacKay will create responses in painting and drawing to shoes for Lotus Bud feet from our collection. Says MacKay, ‘I came across a photograph of a boot used to cover a bound foot. A very beautiful artifact however one that resonates with a history of cruelty and disfigurement of the female for social and erotic ends... ’ MacKay's work addresses the tension between the beauty of the ornate, decorative footwear and its function, and images that depict social and sensuous permission in the life of a contemporary woman."

— Exhibit brochure, Art Gallery of Victoria, Victoria, BC


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