Ally McIntyre: Kindling
Ally McIntyre, Dethroned (detail), 2015, acrylic, glitter, spray paint on canvas

Ally McIntyre: Kindling

Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, AB - Nov 4, 2023 - Jan 28, 2024

by Michael Turner

Those alert to developments in contemporary figurative painting may have noticed Ally McIntyre’s Dethroned (2015) on social media in the later 2010s. The portrait depicts a white boy dressed in night clothes sitting in the lap of a stuffed and faded kitty, his face, hands and feet rendered in the realist style, with vertical clown-like strokes of green and black over his eyes and nose. Dethroned expresses what many knew was coming – an end to male privilege – while at the same time announcing an artist whose work had captured the zeitgeist.

Since graduating with an MFA from Goldsmiths University of London in 2015, McIntyre has received numerous awards and has participated in some high-profile exhibitions, most notably a 2022 career retrospective at London’s Saatchi Gallery. In an interview with the Art Gallery of Ontario about that exhibition, Dog Day Circus, McIntyre credited Saatchi with “showcasing my growth as an artist through those years. The works that are put together in the show, coincidentally, have a dichotomy at play. Earlier works have a theme of destruction and exploitation, while later works have themes of survival and growth.”

For her current AGA exhibition, McIntyre continues to bring all media and styles to the table: in some instances, mixing stick-figure legs with realist faces; in others, combing acrylic and spray paint with glitter – but in every way, pushing the constraints of form and content, entering them into relationships once thought improbable. The success of these interactions is enhanced by the subject matter: a dramatis personae of humans and animals in various states of becoming. Whether that becoming is toward another rehearsal for our climate crisis–induced horror show or a redemptive pas de deux is ultimately up to us.

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