I’ve seen things you people wouldn't believe - Exploring the work of Scott Donohue


“I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die.”  - Bladerunner (1982)


Scott Donohue, like Rutger Hauer’s character Batty in Bladerunner  (1982), is to me an enigma, a mirage, a mythical creative entity.  To you he’s perhaps a friend, lover and acquaintance.  I on the other hand don't know the guy, never met him, never even laid eyes on him!  But I guess I would like him.  I hope I will like him.  I imagine him to be a cheeky chappy with a knack for the chat but with the focus and glare of a bald headed eagle whilst swooping down on a helpless badger when he turns on his creative prowess. 

Our relationship at present is purely on the “social network”.  Glitches of thoughts, ideas, art we’ve seen, links, hums and ha’s and the occasional fleeting glimpse of respect and encouragement for a fellow follower of the arts! I haven't even seen one of Donohue’s (I feel we haven’t go to first name basis yet) works in the flesh yet.  But peering at my computer, hunched on my desk, eyes glazed, clicking via Facebook through to his website I am entrenched in a systematically laid out site that oozes mazy foreboding colours of coal and rust, with injections of colour lighting storms and a dose of rather obtuse inquisitiveness. And I liked it for that. It made my eyes switch sockets and my brain scratch its inner septum.

The beauty of Donohue’s work is that it has already transcended the gallery “space” before I have even indulged in its meticulously use of colour, line and tone. Donohue is the supreme totalitarian dictator of the brush, pen, paper and canvas.  To look at his ink drawing People (2004) is to see an artist dominate the paper with the severity of a pack of blood thirsty Orcs eager for some Hobbit lunch whilst at the same exuding a thrilling dark erotic desire that stems from the bold and thrusting use of ink.

My eyes are ga-ga to view his incredibly ornate and schizophrenic images in the flesh after brooding over them for the past few weeks on the World Wide Web. Consider his painting The Flowers of Evil (2008) it sweats with a purpleley huey plum blue.  Theres an urge to grab his work in my hands and squeeze the ripe bruised purples.

His paintings and drawings are convoluted, indulgent and prosaic.  The first drawing I stared at was Consciousness (2010).  I didn’t look. I gawped. Grasping the monitor in my hands.  I was curious as to where this image was conceived from. The drawing portrays a robot type figure reminiscent of the work of Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher.  Here this robot-like-figure spews a cacophony of odd shapes, arrows, eye balls and what looks like Aztec gold from mechanically controlled tentacles attached to its brain.  Its as if this drawing is looking for a way out while you’re looking for a way in.  I bit my tongue and it bled for a bit. I can only compare it to a pleasant frustration. Like attempting to complete The Times crossword.

His paintings are the more pleasantly grotesque and colourful of his work.  Like a rainbow taken apart by a bazooka. Common Ground (2011) looks like a tiffany lamp put through a cheese grater and then mixed in with a chewed up bucket of marbles and the black heart of Marvel Comic villain Blackheart for good measure. T.v Takeover (2004) is an Orwellian-esque portrait of a Richard O’Brien look-alike having his brain zapped by a psycho domineering TV.  Parallels with Terry Gilliam are yet again apparent especially in relation to his 1985 classic fantasy weird fest Brazil.

Disintegration of the Ego (2006) encapsulates Donohue brilliant use of colour.  Reminiscent of the The Beatles psychedelic film Yellow Submarine (especially the Lucy in the Sky of Diamonds scene) this particular painting makes you want to slide down the beams of the vivid zaps of colour and take you off into the unknown abyss that exists within the painting (or perhaps you would just slip off the edge of the canvas back into the brutal world that we all lovingly hate).

Ben Newell (2011)