A while back I read Roman Payne’s novel Rooftop Soliloquy, a story that was a bit too florid and verbose for me to enjoy, but one that contained a quote I quite liked:
“All forms of madness, bizarre habits, awkwardness in society, general clumsiness, are justified in the person who creates good art.”
It’s a line that holds true for all creative types. It doesn’t matter how eccentric, loopy, slightly odd or downright insane you are, if you can parlay those quirks into something beautiful you can get away with anything. Now I’m in no position to judge anyone on their kookier personality traits, but if I had to pick one person who most embodies this idea, It’s McLean Edwards. Not that he’s a lunatic, but he’s certainly original and after seeing his new show Local Heroes, he definitely makes good art.
Last week I wrote a profile on McLean describing him as “delightfully dishevelled”. This week, after seeing his new show, I’ve changed my mind. He’s actually just a bloody great painter. I don’t like the phrase “return to form” because it implies that there was a time when the artist was producing rubbish, and I don’t think McLean has ever done that. But Local Heroes is a return to something. Bold, colourful and fun, this show features a cast of players who gaze at the audience with a twinkle in their eyes. Unlike last year’s Imaginary Friends and Black Portraits which felt to me full of characters in retreat, Local Heroes is a gathering of confident, comfortable faces who are still a little world weary, but no longer hold the weight of the world in the brushstrokes that formed them.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out this might have something to do with the bloke who painted all these canvases and where he’s at personally. That’s actually what I love about the art of my friends and acquaintances. It provides insight into a person that you might not otherwise see, a better understanding of their journey gained through subtle expression rather than long heart-to-heart conversations. There is a lightness in Local Heroes that lets McLean’s absolute love of what he does shine through.
I guess McLean Edwards at 42 is doing okay.
McLean Edwards ‘Local Heroes’
Martin Browne Contemporary
Until 17 August 2014