Blair McLaughlin (b.1992, Scotland) completed a masters in drawing from the Glasgow School of Art in 2016. He has since been exploring his interest in socio-political and cultural issues through dramatic and commanding oil paintings.
McLaughlin often works from images and sources around him. He builds scenes from sourced images, and manipulates the original visual to add intriguing characters or fantasy-like settings. Through this post-modernist style, he engages one's interest, placing the viewer right at the centre of a scene. This aspect is central to the many of his works where he consciously plays on the voyeurism of art, and eventually of the society which it depicts.
In Curtain, the viewer placed behind a fabric partition, and divided from a hospital scene where visitors congratulate police-peoples on their interference. Here the visitors are mistaking the violently domineering actions of the police on innocent by-standers as heroic. The curtain is a veil to the truth, and the viewer's position leaves one both exposed and concealed.
While Kaguya similarly uses the divide of a curtain, the act of looking — or even spying — is more strongly implied. The painting appears like a freeze frame: the discovery of the viewer is imminent, yet one is unable to look away. The peaceful woman is powerless to hide from view, even in private.
Epsilonia, The Savage State is McLaughlin's creation of a paradisiacal world 'Epsilonia', where the figures are freed from their genetically predetermined function in society (alluding to Aldous Huxley's 1931 dystopian novel Brave New World). However, it is clear that this is no more than a fantasy world, with the landscape referencing the American 19th c. artist Thomas Cole and his landscape series 'The Course of Empire’: the five paintings go from the Savage State as an ideal state of the natural world, healthy and unchanged by humanity, and a final Desolation as result of consummation of empire and civilisation.