Leviathan-like humanoids, anyone?
Scottish artist Chad McCail made something of splash in the region back in 2003 when he had an eight month residency at BALTIC and presented a series of new works across Newcastle and Gateshead at outdoor advertising sites. The work was indicative of his direct and engaging style in which he deployed a simplified visual language and bright colours to get his message over, or, in his own words, “a cartoon world of zombies, robots and wealthy parasites”. His message concerned itself with social injustice (with side orders of sexual repression and totalitarian obedience), as this intensely political artist explored the hierarchical world that was hunkering down for the long haul in the early part of the 21st century.
Since then, and despite the 2008 crash, we have witnessed the richest in society become even wealthier, while everyone else has stagnated or slid backwards. We’ve also seen a further lurch to the right with the forces of neoliberalism being emboldened across OECD countries, particularly through Trump and Conservative election victories in the UK, as we tip headlong into an out and out plutocracy. Chad McCail is fighting back however - in the only way he knows how - with a monumental monochrome mural tackling what he sees as the biggest battle of the 21st century, exploring how we can combine forces and work together to foil those who could defeat us, asking if we can work together to create a new social model in which everyone shares in the wealth we all create. Naturally, this isn’t going to be plain sailing, and bigger forces that stand outside of our individual control will try to overshadow us.
On one side of the divide are masked, robotic figures who have been commanding the landscape and exploiting whatever it produces; on the other are mythical creatures – a minotaur, snake, Leviathan-like humanoid built of hundreds of individuals packed together in a single harmonious unit – fighting to restore order across the land. This gigantic allegory recalls the frontispiece of Thomas Hobbes Leviathan, in which the nation-state is the body of the people acting as one, to shape the common good, against those who would manipulate or divide us. How’s that for a summer blockbuster?Chad McCail: Liars of Earth, 25 June-8 October, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Long Gallery, National Glass Centre, Liberty Way, Sunderland. nationalglasscentre.com