Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Barbara McLean

Barbara is another fabulous artist from Nova Scotia that I discovered by accident and immediately fell in love with. Her expressive canvases have an energy and mystery that speak to my aesthetic.

Barbara lives and works in Chester on the south shore of Nova Scotia. Barbara's current exhibition, Passages: Chance & Circumstance is on view at the Craig Gallery in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Artist's Statement
Passages: Chance & Circumstance

Arshile Gorky (1904 - 1948) says:

Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot physically see with his eyes. Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind. It is the explosion into unknown areas.

In this body of work I have applied oils thickly and energetically expressing a personal sense of freedom and exuberance in literal passages of paint - large swaths of colour guide the viewer at varying tempos through the canvases. "Passages I" serves a dual purpose, firstly the quiet, subtle tones link it to many of my earlier paintings and secondly the initial visual statement of my theme provides the take off point for the evolution of the other works. In "Passages I", the rocky bluffs and watery channels are presented in a fairly representative manner, while in other works to follow, these same elements become increasingly abstracted.

Looking beyond the immediacy of paint and brushwork, I invite the viewer to pause and investigate the works on a different level, to consider them as allegorical navigations.

On maps and charts of the sea, the word passage occurs frequently, indicating the way through a channel. Contemporary navigation aids allow us to locate, with amazing precision, all dangers and obstacles within these channels. They guarantee our safe passage. However, it is the "uncertain before" that most interests me; the first time through when the way is still unknown; when a push in any direction reveals new things; a time when one places markers for those who might choose a similar course. While I have created a series of small markers paintings the majority of my works focus on the unknown. Within these paintings are mysterious entrances partially hidden or darkened. It is this mystery and feeling of imminent discovery that intrigues me. I imagine the first explorers desire to see and learn was as motivating as the potential of discovery itself. Chance and circumstance played as important a role as skill and knowledge.

This navigation allegory naturally expands to encompass life itself. Which one of us does not feel "at sea" by times, or find we are facing the unexpected challenges for which there is no obvious resolution? To return to Gorky, to engage the finite in search of a possible infinite, "to see with the mind" and to "explode into unknown areas" are lofty goals, but for me they define both abstract art and the act of living. That is what this exhibition is about!

Barbara McLean

To learn more about this artist visit her web site by clicking on the image in the side bar.


Jim Edwards said...

What a great find. Fantastic paintings, really inspirational. Love the energy.

KV Abbott said...

I agree, like you she is a "good find"!