Monica Reyes Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.
Jason Mclean’s most recent series of drawings are visual ruminations and inquiries on everyday life as it unfolds. The works are expansive studies on the inevitability of chaos and order as it appears on the surface of daily existence. The drawings suggest an autobiographical contemplation using acrylic inks, pencils, and archival markers on paper. Also in the exhibition are painted personal memorabilia objects such as baseballs and hockey pucks which are reinvented into ornamental keepsakes.
Both the drawings and the found objects evoke an immediate sense of playfulness and spontaneity that is remarkably refreshing in its stylistic approach. The drawings exude a willingness to bear the soul with a level of vulnerability and authenticity that gives the viewer permission to reciprocate. To be in communion with Mclean’s work is to engage in a radical acceptance of life -such that it is.
There is something very liberating and almost radical to this kind of drawing practice in the context of our current digitally enhanced culture with all its trappings of immediate gratification and manipulated perfection. McLean’s drawings, on the other hand, create new thresholds of potentiality as they challenge our existing patterns of thinking. Perception is at its core a creative act. McLean interrogates and reimagines his daily experiences through a drawing practice that is both revelatory and transformative.
Looking more closely at Mclean’s creative process reveals important clues into this process. Mclean fills the drawings with dynamic and gestural movements of ink wash from which images then emerge. There is an element of embodied chance involved in allowing these early
washes of colour to lead the way into further inquiry. In his latest drawings, the mark making trails decidedly much closer to the edge while still managing to remain contained within the boundaries of the paper. The drawings are deeply layered with complexity of line and textures that create spaces within spaces. These are drawings that evolve thoughtfully and must be unriddled by the viewer over time; a slow cook version of personal reflection that allows the hand and the eye to gently soothe the inquisitive mind.
These are large drawings in which the eye must wander and then pause to bring attention to the detailed intricacies where fragments of text appear. These moments of text within the visual experience offer a kind of ambiguity that resists resolution. The resulting tension in the placement of text and image creates opportunities for decentering the gaze. What is interesting to note in the latest drawings from 2018 is the emergence of a more painterly approach to colour on the surface which energizes the compositions. The vibrantly coloured washes of ink seemingly explode on the surface. This new consideration to colour creates an encounter that is more sensorial than cognitive.
McLean is a graduate of Emily Carr University of Art + Design (1997). His work was featured in 2005 on the ceiling of the Vancouver Art Gallery. McLean continues to gain global acclaim, including being a contributor to the National Gallery of Canada’s 2017/2018 monumental group exhibition entitled “Canadian and Indigenous Art: 1968 to Present.” Anne Languedoc