CAROL Douglas: Hygge and Expressionism part two launches at York gallery According To McGee on Saturday at 12 noon.
Greg and Ails McGee continue their commitment to contemporary painting with the latest collection by the York artist, who last exhibited at the Tower Street art space between lockdowns last year.
“We love Carol’s art,” says gallery co-director Ails. “We showcased her 2020 collection in the autumn and we weren’t surprised at how well they connected. The paintings focus in on the simplest, most humble items of homelife and reassemble them as iconic compositions.
“It’s her style, and you can tell who it is from across the room, which is a litmus test of success in itself.”
Carol’s Hygge and Expressionism part one brought the gallery a new type of discerning client when holding court at According To McGee, notes co-director Greg.
“When a gallery has to constantly rely on a static cohort of collectors to keep the commercial side of things going, that gallery is in trouble,” he says. “We have for 17 years made the point that if you want contemporary cityscapes, we have them. Semi-abstract seascapes? We have them too.
“Plates of pears or simple pots of flowers elevated into iconic emblematic art? We had to give Carol Douglas a ring for that! And she does it with such control, such a mischievous vision, that her work reminds me of William Carlos Williams’s poem This Is Just To Say.
“Those cold plums on the plate were more than just plums! So there’s the heft of something simple beautifully depicted that seems to connect to a whole new type of client that we’re really grateful for.”
Carol Douglas’s exhibition follows Hope, the three-week nocturnal digital display of artwork by children from all over the world, a project spearheaded by Denmark’s Viborg and guided to York by Chris Edwards, chair of REACH and the York Cultural Education Partnership, and Chris Bailey, clerk of the York Guild of Media Arts.
“If the intention was to remind a slowly returning cultural sector that According To McGee was alive and kicking, it certainly worked,” says Greg. “The response has been humbling. We’ve had families from participating York schools attending, and teenagers we’ve worked with through our charitable arm, New Visuality, sending me photos of the illuminated projections of their artwork.
“It’s been great and just underlines how innovative displays with digital artists Nick Walters and Pritpal Rehal can complement the more traditional thrills of coming to see a beautifully curated exhibition of beautifully composed paintings.”
Now the focus turns to Carol Douglas’s paintings, with the McGees settling on maintaining the title Carol Douglas: Hygge and Expressionism from last year’s campaign. “Honestly, the title says it all, and the nature of the work has not shifted at all since last year,” says Ails.
“The ‘hygge’ is there to suggest the reassuringly domestic nature of the subject matter, and the ‘expressionism’ highlights just how much of the success is down to Carol’s wholly idiosyncratic insistence on depicting simple things with such iconic power. She is a joy to work with and is a real boost to York’s cultural community.”
Carol, 2018 winner of the Adult & Access Award for Art & Design Lifelong Student of the Year, says: “I hope that people who see my work find it both visually exciting and somewhat amusing. The domestic has always been my focus and speaks of my personality and history.”
Carol’s artworks can be viewed at According To McGee every Saturday, 12 noon to 4pm, or by appointment on 07973 653702 on weekdays. Alternatively, they can be discovered online at accordingtomcgee.com/collections/carol-douglas.
All are welcome at Saturday’s midday launch, Covid compliance allowing.