Here's a summertime show in the midst of winter: painting after painting of sun-basted, salt-encrusted denizens of beach culture, lying about on faithfully rendered stretches of sand, lounging beside turquoise tidal pools. Macdonald's holiday people swim, splash, dandle sunny children on their tanned knees (some of the children ride recreational ponies), and generally behave as if they haven't a care in the world.
These fortunate people are painted with an astonishing skill. Macdonald wields a virtuoso brush. He wields it so deftly, in fact, that he comes perilously close to being merely illustrative - and therefore decorative. His paintings are escapist, both in subject matter and in technique. They look at first like paintings by Eric Fischl - but they don't have that nerve-wracking sense of social critique that Fischl's do. Macdonald is a lavishly gifted painter. But instead of lightening up, he needs to buckle down.
credit: Gary Michael Dault, Gallery Going, 13 Feb 2010, The Globe and Mail, Review p.10