Mushrooms of Language, Peter McDonald’s fifth solo exhibition at Kate MacGarry, consists of multiple works on paper and large works on canvas. The exhibition title comes from an essay by Henry Munn in the book Hallucinogens and Shamanism (ed. Michael J.Harner, Oxford University Press 1973), in which he described the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms among the Mazatec Indians of Mexico to achieve trance states for perceiving and contacting the supernatural world. It is also the title for one of the key paintings in the show. In this painting we look down on a vast array of tiny paintings and see the artist sitting amongst them, basking in the moment. The viewer is wrong-footed as they oscillate between seeing flat paintings and navigating the obtuse space of the studio. This duality of expansion and dislocation is critical to McDonald’s work. He locates pictorial space beyond rational logic. By employing multiple viewpoints, perspective is flattened, bent and mutated. Additionally, the transparent heads of McDonald’s figures allow them to intermesh with objects and the environment, akin to a psychedelic experience.
Peter McDonald’s subject is the everyday, and his paintings are triggered by real life experiences, be it waiting in line for the Eurostar or having a blocked kitchen sink. One idea leads to another; themes reproduce, mutate, spread, and create a synthesised universe. McDonald’s use of intense colour and universal subject matter describes a realm which balances lucid realism with vivid distortions, filled with references to modern life such as iphones, queueing, fashion shows and cafés. His pictures investigate pictorial space by playfully exploring perspective and form. This heightened sense of reality is a means through which the artist articulates experience and meaning.
Peter McDonald was born in Tokyo in 1973. He lives and works in London and Tokyo. McDonald has been awarded a fellowship at the British School at Rome which he will begin later this year. His exhibition at Kate MacGarry follows his solo presentation at Frieze Art Fair 2015 which included 80 works on paper. Recent exhibitions include Roppongi Art Night, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2016; Making and Unmaking, Camden Arts Centre, London, 2016; Winnebago, Carpets, Onsen, Potter, Daiwa Foundation, London, 2013 and Visitor, a year-long residency at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan, 2011-12. In 2008 he was awarded the John Moores Painting Prize and in 2009, London Underground commissioned McDonald to produce Art for Everybody, a large-scale billboard installation at Southwark station.