My fascination has always been the psychological make up of myself and others and how we relate to each other. How much of our opinions are formed by others, programmed by society and when do we question this and start to analyse who we are as individuals. How we relate to the past, fit into history, where do we find ourselves in the present, what do we want for our future? In my paintings I try to recreate aspects of society that I read about in the news. I want to translate the news in an indirect way to create a bigger picture of the situations we deal with as humans living right now.
We, as a society, are standing at a crossroad at the moment. We are forced, due to climate change, the rise of populism and advancing tracking technology, to think about our rights, equality, and freedom, to think about which course to take in our daily lives and as a global community. My paintings reflect this crossroad. I want people to recognize themselves in my paintings, to connect on a one to one basis. We should reflect on our behaviour and the system we have set up. Art can be a platform which questions politics and our current human behaviour, as it is incompatible with our future. I’m inspired by critical thinking.
Society and interactions are created by all of us as individuals. As a group we make up society and different societies create world interaction. The stories grow from how we compare and relate to each other, that there’s not one way but many different ways how we can live, whether we interact or not. It depends on where we come from and what our point of reference is, but also how much we allow the story of another perspective broaden our concept of life. The questions we ask ourselves might be similar, but our answers are very different, we each have to find out individually what life means to us and what place we want to take in society.
Born and raised in Rotterdam, I graduated from the sculpture department at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam in 2000. I was making video art when I realized I knew little about the technical aspects of a camera. I started working in the camera department of feature films. ( http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3463657/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr26 ). But when my desire to make art became stronger, I started to paint. I see a painting as one frame from a movie that tells a whole story, that I can sit in front of for as long as it takes, to take in the depth of the image.
Mack is an artist whose figurative paintings are based on a contemporary narrative inspired by society. On her large scale canvases with thinly applied oil paint on cotton and a calm balanced colour scheme, almost like pastel, she drives the narrative of her work due to her careful homage to the old masters with a modern social perspective. Think visually of the narratives by the Italian masters, simplicity of form and colour of Japanese masters, social commentary by Goya and the solitary feelings created by Edward Hopper all seem to come together.
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.
DHMack first solo exhibition at the NDSM fuse is definitely worth paying a visit. Her use of fences instead of white walls and the circular set up of this exhibition feels like a panorama set up to see the artist’s 360° vision of the world around us.
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