Christian McLeod’s solo exhibition Future Perfect at Toronto’s Gallery 133 transcribes in oils a state of expectation. Over the course of his career, McLeod has codified the staccato rhythms of his paint application into shorthand, much like a stenographer moving quickly to record in compressed form an unfolding narrative, the threads of which here remain largely encrypted.
His Am I Still Dreaming? melds past, present, and the hastening future as a hallucinatory combat. The burst of day’s approach is not a passive illumination, but the wrestling of night’s residual patch into the ground in agitated, icy stabs. Am I Still Dreaming is a depiction of reverie. With the dissolution of the visibly material world, distinctions between objective fact and the imaginary erode. The painted gesture converts nouns into verbs. Expectation as an attitude becomes a funnel through which the seeming chaos of life’s passage is formed into a meaningful structure. It records a memory that readies itself for the day to come.
Christian McLeod, Am I Still Dreaming, 2021, oil on canvas, 48” x 60″
The artist’s Window Fabrics bring to mind the veil that separates that which we can know from the unknowable. The painting is a deliberately plotted façade, gleaming “through the glass darkly” like broken gemstones. While suggestive of weave, morsels of pigment make up letters of words strung into lines of text. The canvas asks to be read, but provides no literal translation. Its beauty as a work comes with our acceptance of it as muted silence.
Christian McLeod, Window Fabrics 2021, oil on canvas, 48” x 36″
What is resoundingly legible in Early Arrival of Light, for instance, is the scaffolding of pigmentation that form an edifice of concrete painted events. The first breaking of light is captured in paint as a rupture of night’s shadow. The objects of illumination, whether mineral or organic undergo a tumult, energized as if by radio-activity. What’s at work is the accumulation of surplus energy, charging the canvas like a battery.
Christian McLeod, The Early Arrival of Light, 2021, oil on canvas, 36” x 60″
McLeod’s Sun Towers may be read as a repository of this psychic charge into which the viewer may tap. How it is ordered into the mind of the receiver is an individual act of cognition, creative in its own way. The artist provides us a template into which we may write our own narratives.
Christian McLeod, Sun Towers, oil on canvas, 24” x 24″
Images are courtesy of Gallery 133.
*Exhibition information: Christian McLeod, Future Perfect, November 13 – December 4. 2021, Gallery 133, 1260, Castlefield Ave, Toronto. Gallery hours: Tue – Sat 10 am – 5 pm.