Fintan Magee. Now there’s a name the rolls off the tongue in a Huckleberry Finn kind of way. But it wasn’t his appellation that attracted me, but a painting of Fintan’s that appeared in my newspaper of choice, the Age. He was spruiking an exhibition of his work at a gallery in Collingwood, the theme of which was related to the Queensland floods of 2011. Entitled ‘The Rebuild’, it featured a blue-shirted figure, ankle deep in water, carrying a faggot of wood. In the accompanying puff piece, penned by Philippa Hawker, the artist talked of the inspiration for it as the evacuation of the family home in Brisbane, desperate to beat those flood-waters as they inexorably rose. The painting was in a semi-realistic style that I am attracted too, so I clipped out the piece, placing it in my blogging folder for future reference.
Eventually I came back to Fintan and took to the ether to see what else he had to offer. Out there in cyberspace I discovered work that quite frankly kind of gobsmacked me. Hawker’s article did talk of his passion for street art, but I found what he produced was on a scale I did not expect – it was magical and eye-opening. So much so that this lad from Lismore has gained a reputation as the Banksy of Oz. In an interview on-line he laughed at the comparison, stating the only factor he had in common with the enigmatic master was that they both used walls as their canvas. Their styles couldn’t be more different.
Fintan studied fine arts in Brissy before he migrated to Sydney – the reason for doing so was that the city on the harbour had more available wall space on its streets and its authorities were less conservative about the art that went on them. He commenced using his art to beautify their urban landscape with his impressive imprint.
He comes right out and says he is impressed with painting big, despite the fact he has diversified into other genres as well. Here in Australia we followed in the wake of Europe and US in latching on to the concept of harnessing street art to rejuvenate the living spaces of city dwellers. And Fintan M was one of the first here to do so. The result is that his big ticket artistic abilities are now gracing buildings in many parts of the country, as well as overseas. He’s set on conquering the world with it.
Shaun Tan has never been my cup of tea, but Magee stated he has been majorly influenced by the author/illustrator. They both, according to the artist, follow the same notion of their product being used to ‘…make an alternate world that runs parallel to our urban reality, something that you can escape to.’ Magee does it on buildings, Tan on the smaller space of a page in a picture book.
In recent times Fintan has been invited to produce murals in Las Vegas, Atlanta, Moscow and the Tunisian island of Djerba. This year sees him in Rome holding an exhibition of his smaller offerings, plus decorating a couple of the Eternal City’s walls.
Asked what attracts him to such projects, Fintan replies, ‘I like the scale, I like working in public, I like making art that’s integrated into public spaces and part of people’s everyday lives.’ It’s impossible not to agree that he has been successful in that goal.
Fintan’s website = http://www.fintanmagee.com/