Lives and works in Sydney
Represented by nanda\hobbs
10 October — 26 October 2019
Stuart McLachlan's exhibition In Hope We Trust is a beautiful, yet, cautionary tale of living in a world on the edge. The artist’s medium—exquisitely hand-carved and rendered paper, has created allegorical moments—observationally surrealist in manner—yet, somehow powerfully poignant in their simplicity of messaging and intent. One does not have to delve too deeply below the surface of the laminated forms to find McLachlan’s coded messaging, echoing the fragility of our human existence.
They are sculptural forms—including lighthouses teetering on the edge of cliffs. Their segmented structure—as they struggle against the enormity of nature, is prophetic. There is a hint of the Romantic sublime in his work. Great beauty comes from his attention to the detail in all elements that make the whole of a composition. The windows of a church, the antlers of a reindeer, the deco relief of an upside-down Chrysler building—all created with surgical precision. In many works, there is a defying of logic of the laws of gravity, serving to underline the thrust of his artistic mission. McLachlan points to us living in a world that has turned on its head—delicately balanced as humanity makes up its mind whether apathy or action is the way forward.
Viewing this exhibition, I continuously come back to Italian Baroque artist, Salvatore Rosa. Rosa, often playful in his portrayal of classicism and landscape, painted one of the great works of grief and hope in 1654 as the plague ravaged Naples. In L'Umana Fragilità (Human Frailty), the Angel of Death looms out of the gloom—bones golden and wings poised, holding the hand of Rosa’s young son as he writes a tale of life on a parchment. The painting, rich in symbolism, talks of the fragility of existence—pure vanitas in intent, however, somehow comforting in the potential for an existence beyond the earthly world. It is beautiful in every aspect—the work painted in the grief of the death of a son, provides hope and direction to the living.
This is an exhibition created in a contemporary artistic paradigm with a neo-classical intent. McLachlan delivers his message of hope and beauty to a world that undoubtedly needs guidance. It is up to humanity to take note—the message is not new, but the metaphorical edge of the cliff is closer now than ever before.
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