In his first solo exhibition in Nashville in over a decade, on view at David Lusk Gallery from July 5 through July 26, Brooklyn-based artist Paul McLean will present a rich body of new paintings and supporting media focused on the life and times of President Andrew Jackson ("Old Hickory"), and other stories from the past, here and now. For “Code Duello, Old Hick & A Big Bang,” McLean will exhibit interlinking series of mixed media on canvas, sculptural or dimensional wall-mounted pieces and ink-on-polyester works, plus digital animations and texts. The show’s subject matter will cover a spectrum of compelling narratives, including President Jackson’s colorful and controversial history, the practice of dueling in America and the art and science of the universe’s origins, as represented in modern technology through computer-enabled data visualization. "Code Duello, Old Hick & A Big Bang" opens Saturday July 5, with an artist's reception from 6-9PM
McLean’s unique approach, which he has termed “4D,” or “4th Dimensional art” since the early 80s, provides an integrative framework for layered techniques, timelines, spatial concerns and concepts. Most of the images in “Code Duello, Old Hick & A Big Bang” consist of the figure on and/or in abstraction, but operate as a kind of perceptual projection device confronting space and time beyond the limits of strict 3D and 2D pictorial architectures. Throughout his career, McLean has created art in both solo and collective platforms, and in this exhibition, the artist partners with long-time collaborator Shane Kennedy, a Tennessee native and recent graduate of The Cooper Union. McLean and Kennedy created a series of innovative pull-paintings during a residency at Chanorth in upstate New York in Fall 2013, as part of the “Code Duello” set. Kennedy also prepared lush surfaces for some of the paintings for the Jackson series, and provided substantial technical support for McLean’s project. Additional fabrication services for “Code Duello, Old Hick & A Big Bang” came by way of the robust and bustling artisanal networks in Brooklyn, especially the Bushwick district, where McLean’s current studio is located. McLean’s impetus for weaving the Big Bang into the discourse underpinning the show arose from his doctoral course work at the European Graduate School, and an encounter with NYU’s Tim Maudlin, whose specialty is combining physics and philosophy in exploring the nature of relations to the cosmos.
Ultimately, “Code Duello, Old Hick & A Big Bang” is an exposition on questions we have about what it means to be “A Man of the Times,” how we stylize our experiences for the purposes of representation, and what we consider to be meaningful action. It is McLean’s general contention that the arts - and especially visual art - give us a worthy vehicle for sharing our most profound encounters with the complex world in which we live out our lives. The artist has the means to combine craft with theory to generate singular objects that simultaneously reflect and embody our perceptions of existence and what we value most. As a valuable expression the art thus conceived can be passed down, generation to generation, as an act of hope - a “real” reminder of, meditation on, and hedge against our individual mortality.