George McLean: The Living Landscape
January 29 to May 23, 2011
George McLean has painted the landscape and animals around his home in Grey County, Ontario for over thirty years. Surveying the artist’s painting career, the exhibition draws in major works from private and public collections across North America and focuses on McLean’s prowess as an accomplished draughtsman and painter of the landscape.
Although all of his paintings include an animal or bird, the artist takes great care to faithfully depict the dramatic light, colour and atmosphere of these wooded escarpment sites, not far from the shores of Georgian Bay. Working in an opaque casein, akin to gouache, on prepped Masonite boards, the artist builds painted surfaces that are both complex and evocative in their treatment. Often depictions of flora and fauna are so finely worked it is difficult to see the evidence of the artist’s hand in the application. Through his careful study, the artist is able to capture the atmospheric beauty of all the seasons in Grey County, from the misty early spring snows to the clarity of the dense early spring woods to the golden heat of high summer meadows.
In this time of heightened concern about the natural world threatened by pollution and climate change, McLean’s work conveys a subtle advocacy for people to reconsider how their activities have an impact on other creatures that share the landscape. McLean paints the animals and birds in their natural habitats, in scenes of action and drama that are a far cry from the “still life” type of painting one expects from his colleagues.
George McLean: The Living Landscape has been organized and circulated by the Tom Thomson Art Gallery, Owen Sound.
The exhibition George McLean: The Living Landscape is accompanied by a major publication consisting of almost 100 colour reproductions and curatorial texts that give McLean’s work its due attention and context in terms of contemporary Canadian painting. The book deepens the discourse around McLean’s practice, setting him apart from his wildlife art contemporaries as a painter of note. The book, by Andrew Duncan Harris and Virginia Eichhorn, is also entitled George McLean: The Living Landscape.
The Living Landscape was curated by Virginia Eichhorn, Tom Thomson Art Gallery & Dr. Adam Harris, National Wildlife Museum of Art. Educational guide created by the Art Gallery of Sudbury. This exhibition is a collaboration between the Tom Thomson Art Gallery, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Art Gallery of Sudbury, Thunder Bay Art Gallery and the National Wildlife Museum of Art.
Charles on the Woodpile, 1969
Casein on composition board
7.5 X 15.5 inches
Collection of George and Helen McLean
Canada Geese over Grey County, 1998
Casein on composition board
39 x 55 inches
Collection of George and Terrie Eaton