Bruce Mackay Limited Edition Prints
So, the question on all of our lips (probably), why cats? Well apparently McKay started painting cats after adopting a kitten called Maxine, who became the inspiration behind his ‘Bigcatheads’ series. Discarding the detail-led visual persona indicative of realism, McKay instead turned to a simpler, looser style, with the linework evolving into iconic shapes as he likes to refer to them as. The abstract element as such permeated from the whimsical approach seen in cartooning. Above and beyond this? As McKay says, he just loves cats, and adores everything about them. Fair enough. McKay considers cats as being a reflection of himself – quiet, reserved, mysterious and easily embarrassed – and insists that when he stares into a cat’s eyes (actual cat’s eyes, not those reflectors found cemented into roads) McKay sees a deep consciousness. Something which isn’t quite recognisable as human, and a little bit twisted he reckons, yet he senses wheels whirring inside its bonce. So as to quickly justify himself, McKay adds that fellow cat owners/lovers will know exactly what he means, whilst the rest of us will just have to take his word for it. McKay points out; “The real magic is in the cat’s reaction to ‘the moment’. Cats have a profound range of expressions, but they’re so subtle, they're virtually invisible. Have you ever seen a cat smile? They can you know. They smile with their eyes”.
McKay stresses that his compositions are simple, balanced ones that follow few rules of pictorial engagement and maintain an unswerving dedication to conveying one aspect and one aspect alone. Indeed, McKay’s mantra is one moment, one message, one gag, one prop, one colour and on occasion, merely the one shape. Simplicity first, second and last. Oh, and no sharp edges, as McKay insists that details live in corners. Suffice to say McKay adheres to this code of illustrative conduct with steely determination, completely un-flickering as his black outlines flow back and forth around saturated pools of colour, creating this liquid line effect as a by-product. He cites his influences as Norval Morrisseau, Lawren Harris and George Rodrigue with a little Keith Haring sprinkled on top, and it’s clear to see that there’s hints of all four across McKay’s portfolio.
Providing that his paintings are billed as big, bright and fun, McKay’s happy at the end of the day, as he describes his default setting as one of eternal optimism, and chooses to view the world around him not only through rose-tinted spectacles, but with a dry sense of humour at close hand. It’s these core qualities that he hopes are both interpreted and projected through his work and which have the visual ordacity and sheer front to enlighten a room or wall space from which they hang. If that’s the case, then job done for the cat man.