Sadly, it is not just Colin Macnee who has died, but also the wonderfully unique and moving way he reached out to people as both an individual and an artist. Colin Macnee produced fearless paintings and drawings. And he lived life fearlessly and with amazing conviction. For this and for the rarity of his talent he will be long remembered and sorely missed.
Essay written by Peter Gard for Colin Macnee 1959-1989: A Retrospective exhibition publication, organized by the Memorial University Art Gallery, 1989
Colin Macnee was born in Pannitola, Assam, India, in 1959. As a boy, Macnee was encouraged by his parents to be artistically expressive. His fascination with the colourful festivals and exotic animals of rural India influenced the imagery and colours of his paintings for many years.
At this time, his mother married Peter Bell, a noted Newfoundland painter and art critic, who re-established Macnee's link with Newfoundland. He moved to his new family in Newfoundland and worked at St. Michael's Printshop.
Apart from painting and exhibiting his work in several solo and group exhibitions , Macnee also designed sets for several Newfoundland theatrical productions. In 1989, two days before a major show of his work at the Emma Butler Gallery in St. John's, Macnee died in a downtown house fire. He was thirty years old.
He worked with a variety of subjects, but is probably recognized most for his Windows series and a set of drawings illustrating the interior of his bedroom. He experimented with producing detailed renditions of objects from radical perspectives and explored various media including woodcut, lithography and photography.
Macnee's artwork can be found in private and public collections including those of the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador's Permanent Collection and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.