Artist_Daniel MacCarthyMeet the Artist

Daniel MacCarthy

Can you describe your work in three words?
Allegories of entropy. 

What got you into the arts? How did you become an artist? 
It’s a genetic condition, definitely hereditary. My father is an artist; he’s half French and on the French side of the family there are painters and sculptors going back for generations. I studied history as an undergraduate, and during that time it became clear to me that I wasn’t meant for academia. When I finished my degree and moved to London, I applied to The Royal Drawing School which seemed to offer a good bridge between my upbringing and the world of contemporary painting which was where I suspected my interests lay.

What drew you to painting more specifically?
I had an early exposure to painting through my father and at a certain point I began to lean into the reassuring feeling that I was just continuing the family trade.

What is the process behind your work?
There’s a lot of sitting and waiting, watching, being ready to strike when a solution to a problem appears. Patience and faith when all seems lost. Putting in regular hours in the studio. There’s a lot of procrastination too; which regrettably or not is part of the process. I often have to catch myself unawares, so I might pretend to be doing something else, like tidying the studio, or listening to the radio, and if in that moment I can sidle up to a painting and get to work when my guard is down, I can achieve a state of flow without myself noticing, thereby preventing the inhibiting sense of engaging in the serious practice of art making. I often start with drawings, which for some unknown and almost alchemical reason have demanded to be paintings. Usually, they have very little information in them, just a feeling. My old art teacher Timothy Hyman used to say good drawings make bad paintings and I often find I have to agree with him.

What are the things that inspire you most?
Nature. Usually as it exits in my head, as a memory rather than direct observation, but informed by a rural existence, and lots of time spent out in the woods, and hills around where I live in Wales. Poems or sometimes historical texts in which I have found a kind of synchronicity with the work will often inform the direction it takes. I have an ongoing list of potential titles for paintings or shows, and these little chinks of ideas often provide a starting point. Also, as an artist living in the countryside it’s very important for me to make trips to the city to see shows and top up my inspiration levels.

What do you hope to convey through your art?
My feeling about the world we live in. The things that cause me to despair and the things which give me hope. And a certain sense of humour and philosophy about these things. Maybe my works are both a kind of grieving and a celebration.

Who are the artists that have inspired you most?
In no particular order: Claude, Blake, Ensor, Bonnard, Munch, Vuillard, lots of contemporary artists...too many to name.

What interested you about joining Canopy Collections?
I think as an artist unless you're very lucky, you can spend a long time searching for people to work with who know what they're doing and take you seriously. I felt like I was in safe hands when I began to work with Canopy Collections. It was important to me that they were curators as well as art advisors.

Do you collect art from other artists? How important is it for you to live with art?
Since the Artist Support Pledge I have begun to amass a nice little collection of small works. This has given me great pleasure having previously only had my own works on the walls. Though helpful (it can be useful to see unfinished works outside of the studio, and solutions often come to me when I’m not looking for them), it can be quite tiresome, analysing when you’d really just like to be reading a book. Now I have lots of smaller works by other contemporary artists I admire dotted around.

Any projects in the pipeline?
I am currently working towards a solo show at Meakin + Parsons Gallery in Oxford (February 2023), curated by Kristian Day and Hannah Payne.