Opening Reception Friday, December 2 6-8 pm
Implied Landscapes, an exhibition of new works by Robert McAn, will be on display December 2, 2011-January 7, 2012, at William Campbell Contemporary Art. An opening reception will be held Friday, December 2, 6:00-8:00 p.m. The show will include sculptures from McAn's popular tree series, as well as new mixed-media canvases featuring abstracted landscapes created, ironically, from trash.
This latest expression of McAn's interest in humankind's complex and often tragic relationship with nature materialized after the artist discovered piles of discarded cardboard boxes, bundled together and ready for recycling, behind his local Walmart store. He photographed the dismantled boxes, finding elements of landscapes within the assortment of random imagery on the cardboard. The finished products emerged as mixed-media giclée prints with drybrush on canvas.
McAn's use of popular imagery and common materials examines a high/low dichotomy-in particular, the nonsensical idea that trash could become beautiful and in fact symbolize nature in its most pristine form. The irony is both literal and metaphorical. Modern industry-specifically, big-box stores like Walmart-has transformed much of our physical landscape from fields and forests into warehouses and parking lots. Culturally, we are conditioned to expect a suburban landscape filled not with acres of trees, but with rows and rows of consumables at our fingertips. McAn's pieces illuminate the absurdity in this process. Trees are razed and fashioned into cardboard boxes, which are used to hold and transport various material goods. The boxes are then discarded and prepared for recycling, or worse, re-enter the landscape as tenants of a landfill. The artist has interrupted this process by reincarnating the refuse as art, in effect returning the trees to their initial place in the landscape.
A long-established and sought-after series, McAn's tree sculptures combine found branches with miniature plastic figurines to create unique tableaus indicative of the relationship between the natural and manmade worlds. The whimsical alongside the serious, the juxtaposition of organic and manufactured materials, and extreme variations in scale among each sculpture's components, all conspire to portray a sense of the absurd. The scenes engage the viewer with subtle narratives that are at once alluring and disconcerting, as the initially bucolic vignettes reveal some sort of startling detail upon closer inspection.
Natural materials, found objects, and recycled elements are common threads throughout McAn's work, which routinely becomes a compelling examination of the absurd. By creating beautiful yet ironic scenes, the artist manages to return natural materials to their pure states within an "implied" landscape, even as he sustains a conversation about human interaction and impact-both on each other and on our world.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
A Fort Worth native, Robert McAn has been exhibiting professionally for more than two decades. He has shown work in venues throughout Texas, including those in Fort Worth, Dallas, Arlington, Austin, Denton, Houston, and San Antonio, among others.
His work has been reviewed and discussed extensively in local and regional publications, including Fort Worth's Star-Telegram, the Dallas Morning News and Dallas Observer, the Houston Chronicle, American Way magazine, Art Lies, and New American Paintings. His pieces are featured in many private collections around the world; public and corporate collections include those of the University of North Texas, Plano's PageNet Corporation, and the Old Jail Art Center in Albany, Texas.
Robert McAn received his Master of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of North Texas, where he studied under Vernon Fischer and Brent Phelps. He has taught as an adjunct art professor at both Austin College and the University of North Texas. Currently, McAn serves as membership and special events manager at the Kimbell Art Museum, where he has worked since 1994.