Thursday, October 28, 2010

Neil McClelland, If You Can't Stop, Smile As You Go By, Harcourt House, until Nov 13

Presenting a new series of tensely nostalgic narrative paintings, Harcourt House's 2010 artist in residence, Neil McClelland, offers a most visible weight to the concept of reliving memories.

If You Can't Stop, Smile As You Go By goes beyond rendering old family vacation photos at the lake. Writing out semi-autobiographical stories during his residency and offering the texts on his blog and as recordings in the gallery to listen, there is a haunting presence behind each painting that draws you in with an inherent melancholy.

Image credit: Neil McClelland, The Passage, 2010
Interestingly, the melancholy imbued in each photograph does not manipulate the viewer, but rather ripples forth like a mystery waiting to be revealed. While each image has a story written with it, both outputs stand firmly on their own. The accompanying text is not entirely necessary to read or hear to gain any further insight into each piece, as although the production of the stories was integral to the artistic process, and are quite well-written in their rhythm and concise prose, the evidence of McClelland's self-searching reads loud and clear in his canvases.

The emotional weight of the paint, the light, the distance between boy and father, are undeniably visible, but it is almost what is not painted, what is not said and recorded, that haunts each image.

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