Glasgow based contemporary artist Lily Macrae’s work explores the compositional chaos and power struggles portrayed in the work of old masters such as Peter Paul Rubens. Here in her interest lies in their ability to deliver a timeless portrayal of humanity. Macrae reinterprets the iconic scenes to learn from the human architecture, playing with the traditional intentions of this imagery.

Current Artist Statement 

“Re-imagining stories to highlight their power, beauty, and often absurdity and exploring how they play a role in a contemporary narrative, I want to hint to each works ancestry, and question our ineluctable relationship with the past. Learning from the diagonal schemes of composition, filled with figures and climactic movement. I draw from elements of old masters paintings, drawing the viewer into a vortex of drama and action which they can then step back from and disentangle.

The conceptual origin of my practice focuses on deconstructing the language of the Baroque, and examining the process of painting itself as being simultaneously an act of both excavation and construction. I construct images which collapse and are lost, then rebuilt layer by layer. Placing as much emphasis on the absent, reminiscent mark as the form that remains in a painting. Considering the fleeting nature of the painterly gesture, each image melds from one form to another; dispersing; fading in and out of focus and intensity. The idea of using traditional mediums to open up a dialogue between contemporary painting and the relationship between meaning and the decorative inherent in painting intrigues me.

I paint in an almost negative way – applying the paint and then wiping it away – searching through each layer for earlier shape and form and attempting to reveal what lies beneath the surface of each work. Each painting is an excavation process, attempting to visualise something that has been forgotten”.

Macrae is currently working from a studio based in Govan on the banks of the Clyde; an area steeped in Glasgow’s rich history of the ship building industry. She graduated from ECA in 2016, where her Degree Show was a sell out. This was followed up with another sell out show here at artpistol Gallery in 2018. In 2019 she was awarded the Hope Scott Trust fund and The Great Britain Sasakawa Emerging Artist Grant. The latter award enabled her to complete a month-long residency with 3331 Arts Chiyoda in Tokyo, Japan. She has exhibited across Scotland, England and Tokyo thanks to her residency. Her works are held in both private and public collections.