I love Saira McLaren’s paintings, especially the dyed linen work. As much as she’s been showing of late, the noticeable progress in her art justifies it. The dyes are getting darker and dirtier. She has started layering gold leaf on top of the dyed linen, and I love gold leaf as much as I like her propensity for a pink and yellow tie-dye palate. Unsurprisingly, I am psyched that she is combining the two of them. Even the ceramics are coming together. There is a weird, crushed metallic glob that works wonderfully with the gold leaf and gruffer palate in her new paintings. It’s as if her idyllic hippie paintings are tracing the trajectory of the baby boomers, from her earlier bright pictures (reflecting the playful fun of the 60’s), to the worn palate of the new paintings (mirroring the faded 60’s idealism of the 70’s), to the new gold leaf layered over brightly dyed canvas (recasting 60’s utopian idealism embodied in the materialistic yuppies of the 80’s. Even the more homely shapes of the porcelain seem to work better with the new shabby paintings. I am just excited to see the progress. It’s rewarding to see how much McLaren is pushing her work.
I think Christopher Astely’s sculptures work well with McLaren’s paintings, especially the sculptures of balls pushing through brightly stretched spandex or the two-dimensional metallic canvases. I think it’s fair to say his sculptures are better than McLaren’s, especially the silvery cloth cube with cement exploding out of it. I am just not as into Astely’s color palate. It’s not far from McLaren’s, just a little bit more on the edge of ugly in a way that feels intentional and challenging, but just not my thing.