THE GOODS | #005–FW15

Name: Niall McClelland
Occupation: Artist
Age: 35

Niall McClelland casually unrolls canvases and staples them to the wall as he shows us around his studio and graciously sets it up as the backdrop in our most recent editorial, AWFULLY NICE. While pulling out prints from a coffin-esque metal cabinet laid on its back he explains some of his most recent work. Irreverent imagery and phrases are layered with offhand coats of paint in a way that obscures both the original form and meaning. The new message intentionally presenting itself as visually vague but conceptually, quite clear. Stunningly abrasive while being quietly subversive, McClelland’s prints suggest a complex and conscientious dialogue as both critic and creator; implicating the artist as an active contributor within the very system he critiques in his work. And it is this self-awareness that makes his satirical jabs that much more cunning, “I want it to make people think, am I being serious or do I think this is funny.” 

“Like … this,” he holds up a print to us and it’s patchy caption reads TARGET YUPPIES, “...this is just dumb”. Even though the contents of this prints were produced for a similar audience of 90s disaffected youth - the mindset and message are transcendent. A similar grit is conveyed through his larger more abstract pieces that feel emotionally heavy and onerous. The large canvases are stained black by many layers of various shades of ink-jet cartridges and have undertones of earlier colours showing through near the bottom; the intensity of the dyeing process evokes a defiant attitude – a staying power.

Looking out the garage front of Niall’s current studio you can feel a similar resistance. The encroaching suburban-like supercenters are a tell tale sign that in the endless cycle of gentrification, the original residents of this neighborhood will soon be forced out. This is a process that McClelland knows all too well as his previous apartment-cum-studio is being eyed by condo developers. In the unavoidable and necessary lifecycle of a city, it, too, will be converted. And perhaps, in an ironic and maybe a mildly cynical explanation, in the case of Niall McClelland, one could say that life imitates art.  

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