Dominic McGill’s works wear their extensive research on their sleeves. Using surfaces that range from wall-height enclosures to resin and gesso sculpture in intestinal loops and folds, his drawings combine collaged elements, drawn imagery, and, above all, a wild profusion of text deriving from a range of sources.
Architectural in scale, McGill’s works envelop the viewer, generating an overwhelming sense of unbridled cerebration, as images beget text and vice versa. We’re in the eye of the brainstorm.
The scale of his works might hint at McGill’s purpose: to create a kind of contemporary history painting, in the knowledge of such a project’s anachronism. As the artist puts it, “history is politics by other means”, and his caution about the partiality of historical certainties is reflected in his perpetually self-critical and contradictory works. Quotations from Christian texts run up against lines from Marxist screeds; common clichés abut fragments of political speeches.
In McGill’s evocation of contemporary uncertainty, everything is equally noisy and equally suspect. In Moloch, a collaged transcription of Max Ernst’s 1937 The Angel of the Hearth (his nightmarish vision of German society under Nazi rule), the galumphing devil is composed of snippets of found photographs that suggest a dystopian contemporary deity, an updated version of the Biblical Moloch, a false idol. Yet there are no absolutes in McGill’s work, and his texts’ occasional reversal implies the potential for contradictory meaning at every turn.
Text by Ben Street