A diverse cultural background seems characteristic of most artists these days, and that’s definitely true of painter Ewen MacDonald. After studying history at University College London and the Institute of Education in London, Ewen moved to the deserts of Central Asia and now finds creative inspiration on the Asian side of Istanbul.
The combination of watercolor, oil pastels and acrylic adds a contemporary twist to Ewen’s cityscapes and traditional landscapes, reflecting an oftentimes historic environment—wherever it may be—of otherworldly light and mystery.
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Eminonu Skyline, below, offers an eerie view of the former Eminonu district in Turkey on a misty day.
What I love most about this painting is the essence of moisture soaking into the cityscape from all directions. With a unique perspective taken from a boat, or perhaps a small island, the haziness of the painting gives me the sensation of being outside in an environment that would cover a person’s skin with dew in mere minutes.
Moving forward through the fog, a medieval city emerges, growing more distinct and surreal with each passing moment. From this distance, however, I am left to only wonder as I attempt to distinguish between boat and building, staircase or steeple.
The contrast between black and white in this next painting, titled Zeynep Sultan Camii, leaves me spellbound and eager to devour all its hidden surprises.
This painting is not so much about detail, but rather the noteworthy placement of each element. The road literally rushes to greet me as the spray of tree leaves direct me to admire the prominence of the mosque’s architecture, which dates back to the late 1700s.
Ewen’s use of negative space on the outskirts of the background adds additional intrigue to the piece. The sparkle of gold reflected where the mosque catches light, the subtle reflection of tree trunks within the sheen of water in front of the mosque, and the surprising hints of color throughout the piece bring the painting’s contrasts to an entirely new level.
In this last painting, Uskudar Iskelesi, Ewen depicts the monumental ferry representing yet another historic pleasure of the Asian suburbs—the opportunity to travel across the Bosphorus, the world’s narrowest strait.
To me, this age-old form of travel is portrayed in the yellowed sheen enveloping the painting. Much like Eminonu Skyline, the feeling of the painting is of a bleak, dreary day. The dominance and strength of the ferry is still extremely apparent, even through the veil of fog. By unmasking different sections of this painting from beneath that moody yellow pigment, the fog appears to be truly rolling across the bay.
To see more of Ewen’s ghostly landscapes and cityscapes, I encourage you to visit his website and explore the place he calls home.
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