Paul Donald starts with an all-American scene: a man in blue jeans and a plain white T-shirt, surrounded by construction tools and a white picket fence. He is assembling Ikea furniture, likely frustrated yet adamant about getting the job done. This familiar scenario gradually opens up into an absurdist play: our everyman has metamorphosed into a Centaur—half-man/ half-horse—with the table serving as his animal-body, a broom for a tail, a blonde wig, and skin powdered white. A nearby sign states: “A Centaur: a mythical being very rarely if ever seen.” In Greek mythology, this hybrid figure represents bravery and the struggle between civilization and nature. Deploying humor, Donald intervenes into clichés of white masculinity, as defined in opposition to the feminine and the natural. As viewers surround this space, now a petting zoo, he prances in circles and flips his silky mane side-to-side. He flirts with the audience, relishing in the attention and affection.
Paul Donald was born and raised in New Zealand before attending the University of Sydney, Australia, where he earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree in painting. After living for several years in Manchester, UK, and then Montreal, Canada, he has settled in Los Angeles. He has worked broadly across painting, sculpture, video, and performance, exhibiting and performing in New Zealand, Australia, UK, Canada, and the USA. His current works enact a self-demolition by way of construction—construction performances/performances with construction. He makes to break—chipping away at structures of whiteness, masculinity, and colonial subjectivity, one wooden object at a time. He teaches studio art at the Roski School of Art and Design, University of Southern California.