BORN 1958, Toronto, Ontario

RESIDES Montreal, Quebec

EDUCATION No formal art education

In 1993 I began using photos as source imagery for my paintings to apply a level of objectivity to an inherently subjective process. By adhering strictly to the information presented in a photograph, by restricting my palette (two reds, two blues, yellow and black), the size of the paintings (5.5 X 8") and by using a single brush (an inexpensive #6 gold sable) I further eliminated many subjective decisions from my process.

I’ve spent decades sporadically roaming city streets with my camera, subconsciously searching for subjects that reflected my core feelings of invisibility. Whether trailers, decrepit neon signs or derelict commercial buildings, each had attained the kind of invisibility within its surroundings that often heralds transformation, renovation or destruction. I’m interested in the existential question of being: If it’s ‘invisible’ to everyone, does it exist?

I’ve begun to see my rigorous, rigid painting process as ‘performance ritual’. Monday to Friday I work at an old office desk from 9 am to 5 pm. I begin the day by removing the paints from a drawer on my left and placing them on the desk. I remove the painting from a box behind my desk. At noon I break for lunch and record my morning’s hours on an index card or ‘time sheet’ that I keep in a drawer on my right. At 12:30 pm I resume working until 5 pm when I record the afternoon’s hours on the sheet.

This ritual is an integral part of my practice and a necessary element in the production of a much fetishised image on board: the average 5.5 X 8" painting requiring up to 300 hours or more to complete.

Through the restrictions I’ve imposed on my process, I’ve acheived a level of detachment from my subject and the physical object of the completed painting but I realise that in my attempts to eliminate the identifiable marks and gestures I made as an artist, I’ve somehow run headlong into myself through my work.

Neil MacCormick

January, 2013


copyright 2007 Neil MacCormick