Friday, 1 November 2013

Telling Stories with a Twist

Psychedelic images? Klimt-inspired patterns? Egon Schiele’s influence? Let your imagination fly, for what you are about to discover is that stories may come in a completely different package when the creativity of an artist is unbound, unleashed, unlimited.

In fact, the common practice is that stories, especially those meant for children, are illustrated. Right? Now, we challenge you to twist that concept around. Puzzled? Try thinking of an illustration that tells a story. Bingo! That is precisely what Daniel Mackie does with his stunning animal illustrations which seem to manipulate space and time, thereby arresting viewers in the meanders of well crafted stories.

Daniel Mackie, a British illustrator who started his work using Photoshop, definitely abandoned that practice to dedicate his skills and talent to pencil sketching and watercolour. He has been producing some of the most fascinating illustrations since 1995, which have already won him several awards. The artist acknowledges the influence of traditional Japanese prints, vintage Chinese wallpaper and Art Deco in his art work, in the same sense as he avows himself as an admirer of Henri Matisse, Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt.

His animal series, in particular, are mind-blowing, thought-provoking illustrations, whose shapes work as “containers” for richly coloured, profusely detailed and multifold-meaning stories defying our imagination.

Actually, Mackie’s artworks find their source either in folklore, legends, traditions, specific cultures or mythologies. Alternatively, they depict each animal’s habitat, in what we may consider an appeal to viewers to respect Nature. Daniel Mackie himself stated in an interview that, if he were not a professional artist, he would be doing something outside in the wild, which fully proves his connection with and his love for the natural world.

Mackie’s mesmerizing art in fact challenges viewers to find the threads of his narratives in the enticing labyrinth of his illustrations. On the other hand, those looking at his work may also feel tempted to invent their own stories, since – just like books – the artist’s creations offer themselves to a multitude of interpretations.

Find out about the Trojan Horse and the Siege of Troy, the Bambi Factor, the Early Christian meaning assigned to squirrels, the banning of cats in the British Royal Navy ships introduced in 1975, the origin of the idea of the Butterfly Effect (a meaning of Chaos) or beliefs associated to Owls through Daniel Mackie’s awesome watercolours. Or discover the natural habitats of the mighty Asian Tiger or the China-native Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, both endangered species which can be found now only in protected reserves.

His stylised, splendidly colourful and detailed animal watercolours which, somehow, evoke the illustrated manuscripts from the Middle-Ages, unexpectedly unfold before the astonished eyes of viewers like open books telling stories with a twist.

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