Ian McLean: a walk on the wild side at CFA


Canadian Fine Arts, on the margin of hip and happening Yorkville, has a well-deserved reputation for finding and selling historical Canadian art. On occasion, however,  CFA has been known to take a walk on the wild side and show a contemporary artist. Although Ian McLean is not “wild”, he does consider some “out there” issues in his painting.

     As with many other painters, Ian started early (eight or nine) and was later transfixed by Manet and Velazquez during museum visits in Europe. Ian’s training at the University of Guelph taught him to consider the fine balance between skill and concept. Too much of one at the expense of the other can present problems for the viewer. Ian pays tribute to the influences of Suzy Lake, Lynn Donoghue, Tony Sherman, and Josef Albers. It is interesting to trace these influences in Ian’s art.

     For me, Ian’s art is all about the tension between Man’s constructed world as represented by the houses and Nature’s omnipresent and threatening power. The houses are islands cast adrift in sweeping, swirling black universe. I love titles and Ian’s are challenging and, therefore, interesting.  The title of one of the paintings shown with this article is “Lantern.” Does this house-lantern welcome or warn? Ian likes titles which pose questions but do not necessarily offer answers. The viewer must construct his/her own meaning.

    Although Ian’s show at CFA is now over, the gallery does have some of his paintings for you to consider. There is also Ian McLean’s website for more examples of his work. Check out the Judith and Alix Art Gallery in Sarnia for details on a major exhibit in February which includes Ian’s work.

     I think we have a winner here for the savvy collector.

Tom Maunder


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