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Statement and Intent

An open proposal to galleries, exhibition centres and museums around the world

The show I propose would consist of contemporary, abstract painting and painted sculptural works – much of which, at first glance, appears to come straight from a construction zone down the street, rather than from an artist’s studio. Indeed, one of the main threads in my work, paintings included, is the visual vocabulary of urban signage and street work – albeit in a dialect that is my own, having brought to this language a personal, poetic approach.

Perhaps the most emblematic of my works is the A_R_T stop-sign, which has seen numerous iterations in various gallery settings, and most importantly consisted - originally - of hundreds of outdoor interventions on stop-signs throughout downtown Montreal in 2000-01 *(other in-situ incarnations have occurred since). This work’s success was achieved on the one hand through the simplicity of erasure – literally transforming the everyday, ubiquitous stop-sign (ARRET) into A_R_T, on the other hand its lasting success stems from having unfolded in the public realm for regular passers-by to see in a non-gallery setting.

In at least one way or another, all of the work to be presented in the show I propose, are elaborations of the same transformative gesture as the A_R_T stop-signs, albeit with more material involvement and more demanding design and production. In my hands, for example, construction barricades become “Passages” – structures, like all good sculpture, that invite viewers to approach and explore; they can be recognised as akin to the ordinary objects that are their source of inspiration, but ultimately cannot be mistaken for anything other than artwork, thanks to the hand-crafted transformations of the construction-grade lumber they are made of.

Similarly, other types of signs have entered into the arena of my transformations. Many are one-offs: found signs that somehow made their way to my studio, and demanded an intervention on my part, that has given them new meaning. Meanwhile, The Dead-End “checkerboard” sign has become a repeat theme that has been the basis for a great many hard-edge compositions in various media.

Other works imitate signage with more subtle uses of road-sign idioms (shape, colour and other graphic elements) in combination with other imagery and materials including found objects. Often the use of constellations and imagery borrowed from star charts figures in these works. As the road-signs of the pre-industrial era, constellations provide a contextual link to the outside world that is symbolic of navigation beyond geography, into metaphysical and spiritual dimensions.


Dead End (#7), 2009

Maclean, Art, signs
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