Douglas McDougall

United Kingdom


biography under completion

Douglas McDougall (b. 1961, Glasgow) gently and surreptitiously presents his political narrative, deep within the guise of a beautiful charcoal image. A small group of skilled artists share his medium of large scale charcoal works, including Jason Brooks and Robert Longo. However, McDougall has his own particular approach, with the piece evolving organically over many months of toil, rather then being driven by a single spectacular image.

McDougall works exclusively in graphite and charcoal on paper. His depiction of greying hair, battle scars and ageing skin is particularly striking, and serves as a metaphor for his subject’s rejection of convention, and their position on the periphery of society. Through the careful rendering of these raw portraits, the artist is unravelling his own childhood in one of the toughest cities in the UK.

The detailed rendering of McDougall’s subjects are recurrent of Rembrandt’s lively realism, a far cry from the photographic ambitions of hyper-realism. After sketching out his portraits with charcoal, the artist textures the paper with scalpel blades, sharp cut erasers and sandpaper.

The artist recently completed a year long residency in Beijing, during which time he made three powerful portraits of Ai Weiwei. McDougall produces a relatively small number of his large scale drawings each year, which may take months to reach completion. His work is in the permanent collection of The Cantor Arts centre CA and numerous private collections.

On his own work, McDougall observes:

‘My medium is charcoal/graphite on 300gsm Snowdon Cartridge, it’s a combination of drawing/painting/ sculpture with a nod towards the discipline of ‘trompe l’oeil’. Being very much influenced in my early years by the vision, technical prowess and theatre conjured by select masters such as Caravaggio, Guthrie, Rembrandt and Velazquez, I now find myself pushing to hunt down and encapsulate the almost jolting theatre of ambiance evoked when viewing a classical masterpiece.The real purpose or vocation in this art, my art, is to try and unleash some of that haunting historical beauty. Excavate with a purpose so that it links to the vivid memories I have as a young boy viewing such works for the very first time.‘

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