We choose one of Scott McDermott’s renderings of rhinoceroses, 278c, for the first piece of the week during Procrastus Interruptus due to the attention it has garnered by the viewing public. This piece is the most sophisticated use of layering that McDermott utilizes as a technique in much of his work, and although the images layered within are not immediately recognizable, once they are discovered they jump out at the viewer like a magic eye poster from the nineties.
The layers are secondary to the repeated rhinoceros theme that creates a series of six number and letter-titled oil on woods. All are large-scale, graphic and colorful, but imbue more serious tones, obvious to the viewer that stays with the image for any length of time. The rhino itself is large-scale and singular in each piece, just as they are in nature, and McDermott expresses this strength, solitude and magnificence in the staid profile of the animal in each panel. Although different aspects of rhino life are pursued in the series, from peaceful existence to the plight of facing extinction, it is the layering technique of images that speak to the issues more specifically.
In 278c, the experience begins with the actual rhino profile emerging as a conglomeration of colorful brushstrokes. Many of the other rhinos in the series are more of a solid state of color, but this one commands the viewer’s attention a while longer due to the multitude of colorful, graffiti-like strokes. This beast looks like he sits in front of a beautiful blue sky, with high stratus clouds streaking the background until one starts to notice the colors and lines that really are comprising the scape. It is when the shadowy image of Steve McQueen pops out that the dance begins with the painting. And then another layer reveals what McDermott initially started with, the laughing face of a lady, her smile camouflaging into the bridge of the rhino nose. At this point, the magic-eye effect is in full swing and the viewer has an experience that the artist intended–to lengthen the time spent with his work. This is a challenge McDermott has given himself and he manages it quite nicely with 278c.