Exhibition: April 27th - May 6th, 2017
Vernissage: Thursday, April 27th, 6:00 - 8:00 PM
Artist Talk: Saturday, May 6th, 1:00 - 2:00 PM
Utopia is a perfect nowhere. It is a dream of human perfectibility that many thinkers and writers have pursued, and it is a place that doesn’t exist. Imagined utopias and dystopias are provocations for thinking about the sorts of worlds and societies we want or don’t want. McClelland’s work engages with tensions between utopic and dystopic visions. The paintings are filled with contradictory impulses as they explore notions of human happiness and perfectibility, the creation of Edenic paradises, devolution and collapse, nature and culture, the monstrous and the beautiful, myth-making and storytelling. Fragments of the real and unreal merge to create possible futures that have potential to evoke the dangers inherent in thinking that human ingenuity and technology can create a perfect society, but that hint at possibilities of a new beginning.
Taking inspiration and imagery from literature and film, along with art historical, historical, contemporary, and personal sources, McClelland creates combinations and layers of digitally edited compositions that form the basis for beginning a painting in oil. He makes connections between what he sees and a wider network of perceptions and memories and then allows the unexpected to happen when painting. Using the rich qualities and possibilities of paint, he seeks to convey a visceral sense of place and time to suggest what is simultaneously familiar but strange. Narratives are ambiguous and open, leaving the viewer to create their own story and meaning. Merging fragments of the present, the past, and an imagined future the paintings create a fictitious world, a “no place” but one in which we might find something of ourselves and our world.
Neil McClelland is a Canadian artist originally from the Gatineau Hills area of Quebec. He currently resides in Victoria, British Columbia where he received his MFA from the University of Victoria in 2014. McClelland is a grantee of the internationally prestigious Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation. He has exhibited in artist-run, public and commercial galleries across Canada and teaches at Vancouver Island School of Art and sessionally at the University of Victoria. His work can be found in private collections in Canada and the United States and in the collection of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. McClelland has a passion for mark making and engages deeply with the history of painting. His most recent body of work focuses on exploring utopian and dystopian visions and problems inherent in notions of human perfectibility.