Joe MacGown's surreal world on display

May 27, 2011 6:25:00 PM



An opening reception for an exhibition of surrealistic drawings and paintings by Starkville artist Joe MacGown will be held Thursday, June 2, from 5-7 p.m. in the Depot Gallery on the Mississippi State University campus, located above the Welcome Center in Barnes and Noble. 


The show will be on display in the gallery Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., through August. The exhibition includes both recent and older works by MacGown, who refers to his artistic style as "neogothic surrealism" or "subconscious meandering."  


The artist works predominately in black ink, using fine-tipped Koh-i-noor Rapidograph pens, but also creates richly colored mixed-media pieces.  


"The work is incredibly detailed, intensely chaotic, relatively weird and sometimes slightly dark," he said. 


MacGown begins a drawing with usually no preconceived idea of what he is going to draw, other than, at most, a minimal idea or basic shape. He does no underlying pencil sketches, but instead works directly with pen or paint. This allows for more spontaneity and subconscious flow. In many cases, to properly build depth, long hours of work are needed to finish these drawings. It''s not unusual for him to spend 250 or more hours for some works to be completed. 


Also included in the show are several smaller collaborative drawings MacGown has done with various artists from around the world. Many of these were done with the other artists'' work completely covered except for a one-inch strip left visible. MacGown completed his part of each drawing based solely on that strip. After completion, the coverings that had been placed over the other artists'' works were removed, and the completed pieces were revealed.  


"This method is not always seamless, but the end result is always interesting," stated MacGown, who is a member of an international collaborative surreal art club called the Exquisite Corpse.  


The exhibit at MSU includes some pieces shown recently in international exhibitions in Chicago, Memphis, Tenn., Canada, France and Russia. Additionally, several were included in three different books published in 2010 featuring surreal artists from around the globe.  


MacGown''s work next will be featured in an international exhibition entitled "The Energy Spectrum" by the Energy Art Movement, at the Meridian Museum of Art Oct. 5-Nov. 26. This will mark the first time this group has held an exhibition in Mississippi.  


More of MacGown''s artwork can be seen at