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Philip McFadden is also preoccupied with the possibilities of diverse materials. For many years he struggled with and intensely explored the possibilities of fibre glass, wood and cast bronze. The series of heads and masks in this exhibition are inspired, on the one hand by ancient Celtic and Egyptian cultures but more powerfully by the present day intimidating Balaclava, the sinister “Head with paper bag and welders goggles” and the frightening ambiguity of “Head with Feathers Headdress and Swimming Goggles.” These are mixed media sculptures but the preponderate material is papier maché, substituting for bronze in this period of austerity. The threatening ethos of the heads painted on canvas, also make multiple references to current community fears and to the covert surrealism of Max Ernst and others.

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Comment by Resident Curator on January 28, 2020 at 12:55pm

Curator’s Comments:

I very much enjoyed viewing your complex figural sculpture Gold a few years ago, and now I come back around to this piece by random chance. While the numerically designated (P152) doesn’t hold all of the evocative symbolic associations for me that I pondered with Gold, I take pleasure in the aesthetic drama of the piece. While the dark heads aren’t as obscured by the Balaclava mask form utilized in the other related heads, and are therefore less threatening to the viewer, this piece does partially read as mask-like rather than anatomical body.  The global influences cited in your brief artists statement below nicely contextualize the mixed media and forms.  But in this piece, I’m struck by the strong form that appears to be an amalgamation of several aesthetic and ethic traditions; several seem to be absorbed without obvious cultural appropriation. I like that the heavier rope coil stabilizes the base, and acts as suggestion of a torso for the entwined neck.  The closed eyes in the heads are dream-like, and suggest figures cocooned in their wrappings.  I see this work was posted some years back, along with your other pieces.  I would love to see your new work, and how your sculptural practice has evolved.

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