Imaginary Friends and Black Portraits

Art Life , Exhibitions Jun 14, 2013 No Comments

From Sharne Wolff

McLean Edwards’ latest exhibition is generally the stuff of fantasy and dreams. Edwards is an instinctive painter and his expertise with the figure has led to five Archibald Prize finals.
His latest cast of characters are dressed for this exhibition of portraits in a fashionable array of trench coats, colourful ties and jumpers, and freshly pressed white shirts. Close by to each figure is one or more of the ‘imaginary friends’ of the title – a further strange collection of ghosts, Groucho-masks, quirky animals and other fictional creations of the artist. Mostly lean and big-eared, Edwards’s subjects (all male) stand awkwardly in the middle of each canvas stage like a loveable company of actors giving simultaneous solo performances.

QT_June 14_Edwards

The ‘black’ side of these portraits is both literal and emblematic. Whilst virtually every painting features its subject set against an infinite black space, there are also elements of fear and anxiety evident in these personalities. The characters lurch between being tragic and funny as their ‘imaginary friends’ expose that which is usually concealed. Edwards, as director of the show, appears to regard the painting process as cathartic. It’s a lot cheaper than a psychiatrist and much more fun to boot.

Until June 23
Martin Browne Contemporary, Paddington.
Pic: Mother, 2013, oil on canvas, 129 x 194.5 cm. Courtesy the artist and Martin Browne Contemporary.

Sharne Wolff

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