Through The Keyhole by Michael Howard
Following the example of Manet, Degas, Monet and their fellow Impressionists, Anthony McCarthy, has sought to find a pictorial equivalent for the sensation of living in the modern metropolis. He is not alone in this ambition,
but his particular contribution is distinctive - he sings with his own voice.
Like those before him, he seeks both the familiar and the unfamiliar aspects of the streets, buildings and institutions of the city that is his home. These works invite us to explore some of its hidden and unexpected quarters,
and to savour the pleasures and curiosities that wandering the city can offer.
Though It is easy to find our way around a city we know well, the one we work or live in, the one we visit for pleasure or education - the real trick is to get lost within it and then to re-find oneself, to re-discover its
It is this sense of naive wonderment that Anthony catches on these refreshingly unpretentious works in which colour, line and composition weave together to create the very stuff of urban life. These works are those of a celebrant
and they beat with the pulse of real life. But they also possess a quirky, somewhat disturbing element - where are the people? Their absence instills into his work an unsettling dream-like quality that is suggestive of
the disturbing atmosphere of a Stephen King film or a painting by Giorgio de Chirico or Paul Delvaux. What price gentrification? Something is gained, surely, but something may also be lost.
An essential aspect of being human is our habit of making connections, interpreting and telling stories and these pictures are, as all pictures are, doorways through which we can pass into a space that we we can fill with our
own imaginings. They may represent places that we know, places within which we have operated, of which we have memories distinct only to us. Cities are at once the most public and most private of places and each of us have
possess our own personal map of the city that charts our journey through life. And so it is that these works, with no pretention, they suggest infinitude of stories that are out there, locked in the architecture. How much
have these streets, buildings, and rooms witnessed?
Paintings such as these open both our eyes, and our imaginations. They make us aware of the nuances of space, place and atmosphere. It is almost as though Anthony has offered us a stage set in which we can play, alert for whatever
the city might bring. As these works are not merely the pigments that have been used in their creation, neither is our city merely a collection of brick, glass, steel, or stone. Instead both the paintings and the urban
landscape they reference are a box of delights where the ‘marvellous’ might erupt at any moment, if only we are ready to catch it. Anthony’s paintings remind us to be ready for that moment, whenever and wherever we might
meet it, for, as William Blake told us, there are angels in the architecture, if we only but look.
Michael Howard, author of L.S. Lowry, A Visionary Artist
Posted June, 2015.