Kelly McLane

Kelly McLane

So often is the label Surrealism tacked onto fantasy art that, in descriptions of contemporary work, it’s become practically synonymous with utopian scenes or lowbrow. Kelly McLane‘s loose dystopic pictures are the opposite of such reductionistic definitions; yet she appears among the best contemporary heirs to the Surrealist movement. Unfolding like bad dreams, her free-flowing paintings excavate society’s sordid depths, discharging pain and havoc from our collective subconsciousness. The artist terms our turbulent society’s ills “cultural dementia.” Her current show at DENK, ecofeministically titled “Peckerwoods,” illustrates this diagnosis via scenes of nature and quotidian life gone awry. Here, McLane employs her signature washed-out passages blending drawing and painting, beauty and grotesqueness; but since her last solo show several years ago, she has expanded her repertoire. New techniques including ligneous scarification enhance her pictures’ incisive urgency. In Deerberry Season (pictured above; all works 2017), a giant grinning rubber duck balefully looms behind a buck whose towering, sanguine antlers contradict his gangly fawn-like physique. The artificial toy appears to be herding the animal towards the edge of a cliff. Symbolizing natural destruction, the deer’s lacerate outline is partially carved into the panel. Overt carnage in Big Bird’s Got A Gun, Birds Born Blind and several drawings piercingly evokes notorious slews of recent violence. It’s been too long since a McLane show. Those who don’t know her work should; and those who do will be impressed by its development.

 

DENK Gallery
749 E. Temple St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Show runs through Nov. 22