I come from a background in sculpture, photography and film. People, their interactions and environment have fascinated me since childhood. It is because of other people that I grow as a human, get a better understanding of my surroundings and follow my dreams. I’m exploring to express the feelings of the contemporary existence of people, individually and as a society.
With my paintings I set out to create a story that reflects my experience or an observation I made. Trying to capture the fullness (beauty and confusion) of being human and visualize my questions about what this might mean. I try to give my paintings an open narrative so that when looking at them you can create your own story. My artwork is based on my street photography and vice versa. On the street I’m waiting for the right moment to capture a naturally unfolding composition. In my studio I’m creating my compositions. I select, cut and paste people that fascinate me, driven by their physical and emotional expression, and place them together to create a group fitting a chosen narrative based on contemporary experiences and social interactions. I’m inspired by artists like Anthony Gormley and Kara Walker, who both place individuals in context with their environment, time and society.
As a technique I use pencil and black oil paint on canvas. Using different methods like wet and dry paint and different brushes, long haired and short haired. By using paint as a way to draw the individuals, the painting gets a soft charcoal character. I like the development of the painting to be part of the creative expression.
In a society how do we relate to each other? How much of our opinions are uniquely our own, formed by others or programmed by society? How do we relate to the past, fit into history, where do we find ourselves in the present, what do we want for our future?
Mack is an artist whose figurative paintings are based on a contemporary narrative inspired by society.
In her work she searches for the soul of modern man, his relation to the people around him and his moment to moment battle with space and perception, vision and placement, survival and in some cases death. She draws you into her imaginative view of modern absurdity. While at first glance she takes you on a trip into a simplistic landscape, a second look shows a use of image and background and a philosophical depth that allows the observer to create his own less than comfortable view of the world he inhabits.
The fact that she chooses to work into detail some of the elements in the painting while leaving other parts unfinished creates a visual depth that makes it possible to interpret her work at different levels.
DH Mack is a painter in the true sense of the word. At first sight, her paintings are depictions of casual social relations in which people are sitting on a bench or waiting in line. As you allow yourself time to observe the characters you start to associate different parts of the painting in order to find the meaning of these relationships.
The form of the characters seems to tell you something about them. The boy in the centre of the painting that is only coarsely outlined may be detached from the other characters that are finely detailed. A shape that seemed to be part of the background suddenly pops up into the foreground and becomes a character that dominates the scene and you start to find symbols that are shared between characters.
Suddenly you realise that your leaning posture resembles that of the people standing in line and the way you cross your arms must be related to the way the old man folds his hands and looks at you. As you become part of the story, the painting begs the question how you attribute meaning to anything.
It is the hallmark of a good artist that she intentionally changes your perception of reality. After you have seen DH Mack’s paintings, you’ll see meaning in social situations in a new way.
J. van der spek