In February 2019 Jonathan Cooper will be holding the gallery’s first solo show with Andrew Macara, a painter whose light-filled scenes of children at play are admired and collected worldwide.
Born in Derbyshire in 1944, Andrew Macara continues to live and work in Derby, and many of his joyful paintings of children sledging in the snow depict the local winter landscape. Others, however, are inspired by the artist’s extensive travels in Europe and beyond, and the exhibition will include French and Italian ski scenes alongside uplifting views of British summer beaches and Mediterranean streets.
Macara was first drawn to painting when, as a ten-year-old child, while his family were driving through a French village on holiday he spotted a picture in the window of an art gallery, and was fascinated by its depiction of a blue door in a white wall. This introduction to art, and to finding beauty in the colours and form of the everyday world, formed a lasting impression on him, and later led him to study art at evening classes while working for his family business. Strong sales in local exhibitions gave him the confidence to become a full-time artist, and were forerunners of the many successful solo shows that have followed.
Whether depicting a frenzied snowball fight or the unsteady wobble of ice-skating, Macara is drawn above all to the unselfconscious delight that children take in their environment, finding their carefree movements more dynamic and interesting than that of adults. His choice of scene is visual and instinctual, and once attracted by a landscape he works quickly at his easel outdoors to capture the freshness of his subject. Fascinated by the contrast of light and shadow, he only works on bright days, and his frequent trips abroad are booked at the last moment, when forecasts predict good weather. Back in the studio, he re-works his small studies into larger paintings, often populating them with figures from the hundreds of drawings he has compiled in sketchbooks, making his works a careful balance of imagination and observation, and a vivid tribute to the extraordinary richness of daily life.