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'Last of the French night marcher (Culloden III)', Dougal McKenzie

Abstract painting of a lake and forest scene

Oil, distemper and charcoal on linen, 156 x 168 cms


'My main area of concern is painting and history, and how we perceive ‘narrative time’ through the experience of a painted surface.

My current work takes as its starting point the decisive battle in 1746 between the Jacobites and Hanoverians at Culloden in Scotland. I am interested in similarities and differences in history and culture. In Northern Ireland, where I live, these are often grounded in the political and religious events of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The work faces up to the limitations imposed on two-dimensional representations in accurately interpreting ‘fact’, while seeking to formulate new and valid ways of opening up a dialogue between picture and content. I place particular emphasis on our perceptions of narrative time, ones that can be affected not just by personal biography and history, but also by the encounter with the actual painted surface itself.

Therefore I look back to the Modernist strategy of separating the work from the subject, as being the closest I can get to re-activating the space between ‘past’ historical fact and ‘present’ personal experience. (This stands decisively against the postmodern tendency to cross-reference and embed the subject within a ‘mass culture’ schema, which was also opposed by Adorno.)

It is a ‘re-modernisation’ of history and picture-making, that I am interested in most.'


Dougal McKenzie was born in Edinburgh in 1968. He studied at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen in 1986-90 and the University of Ulster at Belfast in 1990-91. He has since been based in Northern Ireland and Ireland, where he was lecturer in painting at Limerick School of Art 1997-2003. He has held numerous solo shows in Belfast and Limerick and has been included in group shows in Central Europe, Iceland and the USA. His solo show, Culloden, is forthcoming at Context Gallery, Derry 2004.