West Coast Transmissions
Cameron McLellan is a Vancouver native who has turned to the fundamentals of the west coast landscape and architecture for inspiration in his artistic practice. Through subtle point drawings, McLellan explores the affective visual intervals in his surroundings. Stemming out of his study of design, and architectural writing, McLellan’s interest lays in the emotional response to space and the dialogue between structure and to the natural environment of th Pacific Northwest. Some of McLellan’s drawings re-contextualize architectural renderings from their original service for project design; illustrating west coast houses within landscape. However his works are exploratory in nature, based on both studies and imagined spaces, allowing for McLellan’s pracitce to transcend into pure abstraction.
McLellan’s representational landscapes are overt in examining the societal relationship to nature in the unique climate of Vancouver and west coast British Columbia. Mclellan is interested in the psychological impact the teeming rainforest places on the inhabitants it absorbs, and the relationship Vancouver has created between its urban design and green spaces. The drawings Merging Forms (2014), and House In the Trees (2014), contrast the cutting lines of their nesteld structures within the chaos of imposing foliage. Both works are detailed representations of their subjects, with allowance for the viewer to delve into the large organic areas that become abstracted upon close examination.
McLellan’s observations of the character of the rapid evolution of the city - how things go down and things go up - has transferred into the accretion and building up of him imagery. Through the slow, methodical process of his technique, McLellan dedicates time to a subject that may not allow the same repose and recess to its audience. His slightly sylized piece, Blenheim Takedown (2014), pays homage to this supplanting of structures. The faintly lined, seemingly over-exposed quality of the image induces a sense of impermanence compared to its detail-oriented counterparts.
His abstract works stem from a similar concept, examinging the cumulative essence in nature as well as in the art of art-making. Seven of these abstract works are a part of McLellan’s Rock Face Series, depicting closely cropped images of rock formations, wood, and earth. Rock Face, West Vancouver (2014), explores the intricate components of the bedrock, highlighting the fractal geometry through the scale of the work. The tightly framed images reference photography and transpose the subjects from their original source. This process enables the works to draw in the viewer to mediate the composition, line and texture, igniting the desire to understand the image, and creating space to contemplate the simplicity of nature.
As this body of work progressed, McLellan’s exploration in abstracted imagery eventually gravitated towards instinctual process; concentrating on the rhythm of mark-making and composition. His limbic work concentrates on repetition and texture, and the evolving subjective response to the imagery and forms, whether in a series or simply in multitudinous markings on a page. McLellan enjoys building and watching his pieces take shape, seeking a compelling, balanced composition. Though his abstract works reference natural forms, they are not overtly landscape and are based on mark-making and the act in producing depth in the lighter and darker tones. He works emphasize the importance of white space, framing a tight composition in a sea of white that acts as a kind of buffer; housing the forms and creating a sense of calm in the aesthetic pleasure of looking.
Through his simplicity and directness, McLellan’s technique highlights the basics in the act of building an artwork, as well as referencing the fundamental structures in natural formations and topography, allowing space for recognition of order and entropy in our environments. His series investigates the balance between abstraction and representation. Whether through the meditation of mark-making, or in the subtlety of the lack of colour, McLellan’s drawings are meant to be quiet moments of reflection. His works have a sense of observing and capturing, and taking the time to pull out the transitory moments that are gone or go unnoticed.
Text: Samantha Newton, Magtear, Robert Lynds Gallery, January 2015