McGinty’s landscapes assume a magical, untouched quality, and are always painted to be monumental in scale, as you can see in the above painting, They Might Be Giants. He obviously respects space and doesn’t flinch from wide perspectives.
A common thread that passes through many of McGinty’s paintings are bright splashes of light which radically enliven his work, whether landscape or still life. At the same time, his paintings of kitchen utensils often appear hackneyed, as if oiled by countless human fingerprints.
McGinty also imparts a certain “look” to his still life paintings which I can only describe as a strong fifties vibe, like from a classic Coca-Cola poster. Naturally, this is further enhanced by his glossy, bright palette.
This small painting, entitled Spice Caddy, still manages to convey a sensation of a large space. The multiple white dots on the metal and the glass represent reflections of light, coming either from several sources—or from a single one positioned high above—either of which implies a commercial, restaurant location.
In a way, the sheer number of reflections creates a visual noise, like echoes of numerous conversations mixed with a background music—the usual restaurant buzz.
The detail with which the sides of the saltshaker is painted is gripping: a stroke of orange followed by a stroke of gray followed by a stroke of white. Since there is no gradation, McGinty is revealing exactly how he produced that reflective effect.
Delving deeper, when you consider the positioning of everything the caddy seems to be placed off-center on the table. In other words it appears to have been moved, and we can presume is moved constantly—that after all is its purpose, to be shifted, pushed around, placed and replaced before every meal.
The spice caddy seems like only an afterthought to a table’s usual setting and yet it is worth mentioning that it (along with the menu) is the most steady of all other tabletop objects involved—different food and different people come and go, but the spices remain constant.
As a result it’s a painting that offers a rare close up on a secondary character which, despite its supporting role (or perhaps because of it), provides insight into the different experience and aesthetics of dining out.
There is also the possibility of symbolic humor that can be found in this tabletop scene. For instance, the salt and the pepper shakers are very close, as if to suggest intimacy. Indeed, if the metal ring above them represented wedding bands, the two spices could take on roles of a couple about to be married. Perhaps a “marriage” of spices is fitting, especially in a well-spiced dish.
Of course, the two are bound together in a metallic frame resembling a cage, so one could also draw unfavorable conclusions about married life from this painting. . .