Artist Biography - Louise McClary

Delicate intertwined ribbons of paint suggestive of natural organic elements, dusty powdery tints sensitively brushed against luminous mists of colour seeming to evoke various light effects, this enthralling painterly conjuring radiates from the paintings of Louise McClary. Hints and prompts seem to direct us to natural environments, places with which there must surely be some ...deep affinity. But this is merely the start of an understanding of these rich and ethereal works.

The Cornish landscape that McClary has lived in and felt for on a profoundly embracing level has indeed constantly driven her work; in viewing her paintings one could be forgiven for seeing them as abstracted landscapes. Entwined root patterns, overgrown paths, pools of shining water, mists and vapours, these are all exquisitely suggested in the fields of glowing colour, organic shapes and meandering lines on the sensitively painted surface. A surface incidentally that is from the start very deliberately chosen for its specific quality; fine weave linen which seems to absorb colour when dry-brushed, or rag paper that allows inks to run freely in strands.

There are even drawings that form part of McClarey’s process that are made directly from the landscape, but she puts these aside when she sets about studio paintings; they have fulfilled their role of familiarization and the new work then starts in a pure unrestrained way. However much a feeling for landscape, or more particularly domain, visits her like a veiled messenger what she seeks to reveal is her own underlying personal poetry.

Titles such as Today This Delicate Brilliance or A Song More Silent Than Silence point us to another more reflective and absorbing level of reading within these seductive works. The titles often mention song, poem or sonnet, suggesting a desire to prompt lyrical emotive sensation; they might similarly include waking, pulse or breathing, alluding to life rhythms. Times of transition such as dusk or morning, or seasonal change, are also referenced.

McClary’s studio is a place of amplified creativity; everywhere there are different aspects of work, numerous canvas paintings in progress, paintings on paper scattered in piles on tables, drawings, reference books on artists, lines of poetry or quotations written on paper or directly on the wall, old photographs. Reproductions of paintings are on the walls revealing an unusually broad range of interest, Rembrandt’s The Jewish Bride, a Rothko Black and Blue, a Chardin figure painting, Vermeer Interiors, early Renaissance religious paintings, Pollock, Cezanne. She speaks of being profoundly moved by the vivid imminence of Caravaggio’s paintings. These are seemingly differing references but chosen perhaps to echo characteristics such as closeness, intimacy, saturation or exactness that she constantly seeks to unravel in her own work.
A minute intricacy of web-like lines and strands, often concentrated towards the centre and sometimes barely visible, draws us into the painted surface closer and closer; the surrounding softer diffuse activity becomes more airy or encompassing. Close up we see the history of the making; brushing, drawing and placing coloured accents over layers almost conceals the numerous shifts and interventions that have taken place, but they are still there, deep within the complexity and contributing to the particular glow or mutedness. Subtle nuance, that beguiling whisper of some concealed truth, flickers there in the paint.

There are no horizons to be found, no perspectives of the conventional sort, no fixed points that mark beginning or end, no specific reference to scale or proportion. Instead everything revolves, floats, diffuses, sparkles, concentrates, undulates, propagates and disperses. Sensations are quietly nudged: stillness, silence, brilliance, loss or elation. Bewitchingly, each painting resonates the most acute sense of a spectacular emotion.

McClary was born in Cornwall and trained at Penzance School of Art. This traditional art school was the starting place for some of McClary's artistic influences, like Peter Lanyon. Her traditional education led her to paint local landscapes as she learnt about color, gesture, form, and line—rather than the critical theories that seem to underpin so much contemporary art education.
Aged 18, McClary became a decorator at the Troika Pottery in Newlyn. Troika’s molded pots combined of strong geometric forms decorated with bold, simple patterns and this early visual influence can occasionally be felt through her paintings.
After finishing at Troika, McClary relocated to the coastal resort and harbor town of Saint Ives, were artists have long been drawn to the intensity of its light and colour which seems to highly the landscape. In 1990 McClary became a tenant of Porthmeor Studios, following in the footsteps of some of British modernisms greatest artists — including Ben Nicholson, Patrick Heron and Barbara Hepworth. She was drawn to the beach in the winter and the beauty of summer evening.
As influential as St. Ives landscape was, the artists time here was a challenging period, marked by unhappiness and addictive behaviour. These emotions transpired in her works strong colors and forms radiating the artists raw and painful energy. The artists depictions of women, birds, animals, and fishermen swam against the art of her peers, who were influenced by abstraction and modernist tradition.
After spiritual awakening and facing her addictive behaviours, the artist left the artistic claustrophobia of Saint Ives and moved to the the Lizard Peninsula with her husband. The calm rural landscape and shift in landscape lead her to work explored new subjects and themes, with themes of light and hope. She continues to explore these themes through her work and marvels at the beauty of the world and to seeing miracles in the everyday, after escaping from her depressive past.
McClary has an impressive exhibiting profile extending over 25 years; she has participated in numerous solo exhibitions including at prestigious galleries in Central London, Bath and St Ives. She has also exhibited in many group shows in the UK and abroad and has been accepted for a number of competitive selective exhibitions including The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and The Discerning Eye Exhibition. She has work in numerous public and private collections and has appeared in a number of publications as well as being interviewed by the BBC. She joined Artwave West in 2015.
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