McAlpine Miller: The New Collection

smc-taking-out-the-trash

It is so exciting to see McAlpine Miller’s latest artwork.

At first sight I wondered what it was, exactly, that McAlpine Miller’s newest artworks remind me of. Then it hit me. It’s the high-tech look. In them I see something of both the very modern and the nostalgic, in sync.

It is the merger of today’s science of technology with the prowess of ‘live’ cartoon action that is at the heart of his new body of artwork. And it is the clarity of these forms of his, both human and animated, that invite me ‘in’ to his frame, to be a participant. As if a play on the stage, his actors are framed in the scene through architectural elements that challenge today’s 3D space but, realising the art history of centuries past, it is as if you’re looking at a Roman Fresco that’s up to date with 3D Projection Mapping, but also stereographic 4D.

The similarities between his traditionally-painted canvases and today’s Social Media micro-electronics are what integrate his pictures. It’s as if waves of electrical quantum photons (light) take the place of both the traditional Old Master’s Classical or the Modernist’s Impressionistic prism, on level pegging. By taking the cartoons of yesterday and brightening them up with the cartoon colours of today, his sense of hue is as sophisticated as a Renaissance painter’s in softening natural looking skin tints that appear to be blended with today’s CGI pixelated palette. From traditional looking Antique White to Saddle Brown he pulls his visionary-art right bang-up-to-date through colours that are so …. of the ‘now’; of today.

Walk up any High Street, look in the fashion-chain store’s windows and you’ll see all the models dressed in the same lively, exotic, lush Pantone colours that McAlpine Miller squeezes from emerald green to chilli powder pepper red, canary yellow, tangerine tango, hot pink and peach puff. He uses colours that look as though they’re on a video display but they’re not, they’re on his canvas. Here is an artist who really understands what tomorrow’s Social Media is all about. His treatment of pictorial space is brilliant through the combination of multiple spaces and pictorial surfaces ‘released’ (painted) on ‘multiple platforms’ (picture planes) with an apparent Pixar style of animation about them. In eye-catching overlapping of graphics therein lays the McAlpine Miller Modernity.

All the things that David Hockney can do with an iPad in terms of colour, collaged composition and cut-and-paste layering, McAlpine Miller takes full circle by doing New School in an Old School style all, incredibly, with his oil paints! McAlpine Miller is taking Hockney a step further, by taking it a step backwards. Being far more complex, with traditional oil paints. His paintings have a 3D look about them. Seemingly composed through the employment of graphical cropped images edited under a CGI mouse-move, but it is all done with his sable paintbrush not the magic wand of Photoshop. With this, he paints pictures that connect with you, today. McAlpine Miller is one of the best artists of our time, painting about our time, in the best way I’ve seen. This is how he is changing the course of Art History – much in the same way that Da Vinci, Monet and Picasso did. The art of tomorrow starts here ….

Constantly looking around him at our everyday, McAlpine Miller has a set of references that are totally different to other painters. It’s as if, he says, that, “these realities combine to challenge us and perhaps create a greatly unstable world. By uncovering our real issues we discover ourselves. Undressed to the world, yet layered to the world. The illusion continues…”

It appears like he has tagged all this in Pixar animation, transforming, for example, the imagery of Stan Lee, founder of Marvel Comics, and Hanna-Barbera of the 50s and 60s, with Steve Jobs and George Lucas’s Pixar Animation Studios of today. As in, ’Taking the Trash Out’, where Hanna Barbera is alive in Hoagy’s Alley wearing this new summer season’s high wedge sandal. It is not just about taking the trash (rubbish) out, it is about the unwanted material – the waste – as the leftovers of our forgotten civilization, about to be recycled for posterity into today’s computer jargon of the ‘trash’ of the PC world. As he points out, by, “Taking the idea of the central figure and revealing an alternative opinion of that character, [this show hopes] to reveal the ongoing nature of the transparent life. Beauty is only ever skin-deep and our ability to hide behind the facade has become something of a 21st century art form.”

Something else, for (some of) the boys, highly topical and relevant to today, you cannot close your eyes to the psychological interpretation of reference to unconscious homosexual fantasy when Batman can now legally marry Robin. With Catwoman taking the part of the witness, ready to whip you in to shape, in, ‘Woman of the Night’. DC Comics’ Batman – aka Bruce Wayne the billionaire playboy, industrialist and philanthropist that all Americans aspire to become. Whilst for the girls, in, ‘Here to Save the Day’, Superman – the fictional Superhero inspires the a-typical personification of the American, apple-pie-loving girl-next-door Gibson Girl, to show what she is prepared to do for her country, not the other way around. McApline Miller explains, “Highly celebrated and widely identified, beauty hides the ugliness of our reality. War, hatred, anger and religion make up our every day.”

Where, even as goodness Captain America slaps the enemy in the face, you’ll see that it is an extremely sexy, McAlpine Miller high-heeled heroine, in, ‘Salute to the Captain’, from a time when comics cost a slim dime, and models today are just as thin. And in, ‘A Typical Feminine Trait’, he fuses the Terrytoons animation studio with the multiplex Uncle Sam (metaphor for the United States recruiting of soldiers for the Wars), fighting wars, fighting the great ideals of justice, and even, fighting the fusion of today’s fashionable franchise branding where the references to catwalk anorexia and financial waste (and gain), connect.

McAlpine Miller achieves all this through his all-action comic book colour palette painted with his idiosyncratic, painterly, Old Master skill. Together with the industrial precision of a commercial graphic illustrator, over, the prominence of what I’d say is surely his own, Social Media edit look. All blended with Chiaroscurism’s use of shade and light. Unique to McAlpine Miller, there are two kinds of light in his paintings. The light of day, where he makes everything known and available. And the internal, spiritual, light which is when he paints all that which we can only just about imagine in our dreams. I’d be happy to live in a McAlpine Miller picture.

To help you, he splits his multi-focus Cubist compositions in to single-viewpoints of flat, fixed, fragmented planes that sculpt his storyboard characters over overlapping perspectives. Exposing them as collaged Pop Art mass culture, that looks physically disturbed by an Expressionistic revelation of images, through to an Abstract subsistence of layer-upon-layer of veiled-on oil paint revealing, informing and identifying a connection that is pure lifestyle. This is all perfectly clear as McAlpine Miller’s wholesome flesh-and-blood bikini-babes retreat to an ever-eternal return that connects the past to the present, and even the future.

There is also something of the conservative, I’d say spiritual, in his compositions too. From the triptych, ‘Three Times a Lady’, surfaces the early Christian art formatting popular for church altar paintings from the Middle Ages. McAlpine Miller’s canvas is rich in a visual legacy enabling him to project his content-aware prominence, found only in today’s world of celebrity-worship icon advertising. Amidst all of this he uses highly distinctive, iconic, 1950s Americana which he blends with Romanticism. From the portrayal of the beautiful Movie Star from the Golden-olden-good-old-days-gone-by, off-of-the-Silver-Screen, to today’s multicoloured computer-animated, backlit fluorescent light of the iPad, it’s all pure cinema.

He is both painter and public entertainer that, if Jessica Rabbit were alive today, I’m sure that McAlpine Miller would be the artist whom she’d want to be framed by.

©Estelle Lovatt FRSA

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