Amongst the local, visual art success stories…

Jason McLean is a Brooklyn-based, London artist whose one of the many success stories out of H.B. Beal Secondary School. His current show, Boomerang Smile, opened on July 5 and runs until July 28 at Michael Gibson Gallery. The gallery has represented him for many years now and this will be his third solo show with them.  

Although fascinated with the Forest City, McLean has not lived in London for 23 years, living in places such as Bright’s Grove, Vancouver, Toronto, Los Angeles, and Brooklyn. However, many of his pieces still reflect back on life in London.

From a young age, he was intrigued by work based on regional areas, such as that of Michael Ondaatje’s. We connected on this, as I enjoy regional work from my home that shines a new light on a place I believe I am so familiar with.

His work has been described as “rhizomatic” by Kelly Jazvac, a celebrated London artist. He uses mind mapping and a Roy Lichtenstein-like aesthetic to communicate the regional influence in a unique way.

It’s all in the style.

McLean formulated his style when he was living in Vancouver. It came to him while wandering the streets with his friend Darren, an enigma of a man who is featured in a lot of his works as Uncle Porkchop. The artwork stems from his experiences and his surroundings, coming into being at his kitchen table (which, ultimately, limits the size of the pieces), and he’s consistently inspired by his current situation… or flaneura as he describes.

Over the years, he has experimented with sculpture, zines, music packages, video, and even costume design. There’s a sense of comedic playfulness in the pieces, even when discussing slightly more controversial topics like politics, family, and the economy.

LondonFuse Jason McLean
Jason McLean talks style, message, and interpretation at Michael Gibson Gallery. Photo by Oshi Rathnayake

One of the most interesting pieces in Boomerang Smile called “Peachy Picture.” Specifically, it references London’s old O-Oee-Chee Factory (a company that made candy and highly coveted baseball cards here in London throughout the 20th century) and that loss of authenticity once it was acquired by Nestle. These are the type of everyday stories that McLean pulls from to shed light onto issues that we are all constantly faced with. Another piece of interest, ”Deals Deals Deals,” looks at fluctuating housing prices based on geography. He also pays homage to his previous mediums of choice by accompanying this piece with a zine.

Or, it’s all in the message…

In the works, McLean’s personal opinions are subtle so that he can leave the interpretation up to the viewer. His work stimulates the mind and with each glance, you notice a new aspect of his art as a whole.

All in all, this very well curated show asks the viewer to take a step back and contemplate. It asks you to think about everyday life (the mundane) both here in London and in general. It requires multiple glances and a curiosity to know more. Ultimately, McLean’s looking for you to formulate your own interpretation while thinking about questions you may not have asked yourself, or your city before.  

Through this show, McLean brings love and appreciation back to London, for himself, and all who attend.

Boomerang Smile runs until July 28 at Michael Gibson Gallery. For more information, check out the website here and for more on Jason McLean, head to Instagram right here.

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