Charles MacQueen RSW RGI – Biography

“My most important influence was John Dewey, whose work I read when I was training to be a teacher. His book “Art as Experience” made strong emphasis on learning through doing, and Art as a response to lived experience. Dewey’s insistence that the expressive energy of works of Art comes from formal interaction rather than from representational subject matter This gave me, for the first time a justification for wishing to work in an abstract/non figurative way.

I began to think about the connection between the art object and the viewer. The object in my case a painting was made for people to reflect in, as they might in a mirror. In a way the painting could heighten the viewers perceptual understanding of line colour pattern shape texture or form but could also help them “see” themselves. Not everyone would see the same thing. One member of an audience at the play “Hamlet” could see it as a blood thirsty murder, another a psychological drama. The play is constant but the level of appreciation changes from individual to individual. This helped me to decide the role of the artist is to make these “magic mirrors” for people to reflect in.

Every painting I do is related to the last one. It may be a continuation of the previous painting or it may be a reaction against it. When I grow tired of harmony, I long for discord. Colour and surface texture are very important elements in my paintings. The forms I use are forms remembered, experienced or dreamt about. Usually as with recent trips to Tunisia and Morocco it takes between six months to a year to digest the experiences. The stark visual contrasts of moving between strong blinding sunlight and black dark bazaars full of rich reds, golds and turquoise eventually inhabit my paintings. This is also like being put down to sleep in a darkened room with strong sunlight streaming through shutters. This is not a representation but an evocation.”

Charles T K. MacQueen RSW RGI

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