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Steffanie Ling
Walter Scott at Macaulay & Co. Fine Art
March 22, 2017

Standing before Walter Scott’s coloured pencil and acrylic drawings at Macaulay and Co. Fine Art, I gaze at many different pairs of droopy Snoopy eyes. In some drawings, they float like a league of Cheshire cats. In others, they belong to the body of a “protagonist,” the non-gendered or species-specific star of this suite of eighteen works titled A Small Metal Crow with Wings on the Way. These eyes negotiate musical tastes and fashion sense as much as enemies of the self, be it social pressure or all that swirls beneath a thick peach turtleneck, under the brim of a feathered hat, and within a pair of skinny black pants.

Walter Scott

Clothing is actually a way in. Nostalgic hipster fashion iconography is deployed like a costume study, yet succeeds as a moody caricature: it conveys an aching self-awareness and willingness to parody the pop cultural aesthetic the artist and his milieu participate in. I covet the shoes in the protagonist’s wardrobe. When pointy black boots or the dramatic tread of an ankle boot is drawn in a thick acrylic and dries to the sheen of patent leather, the shoe becomes a shoe-shaped hole. I bet that hole leads somewhere I’ve been – perhaps my early twenties. The ticking of a neon sign piece titled Headbangs (for Shelley) croons as different sections light up to illustrate the path of hair that whorls to the sound of the silent Metal.

This many drawings so formally connected by imagery can’t help but feel like an evolution of the panels that structure Scott’s much beloved Wendy Comics. Each cosmetic consideration of a figure resonates as character development, but here, the artist can be less beholden to narrative and attend to an experimental pursuit. His drawings vacillate between technical proficiency and gestural whispers of pencil crayon. Although vacillation implies indecision, this indecision feels true to the depiction of the personal tumult and performativity that these works uphold as fluid but apparent subject matter. Scott gives us someone simply referred to as the protagonist who is a hero of personal unraveling. What heroics are to be had, though? The everyday heroics of lasting the day with our wits intact? With our vulnerability tested just enough?

Macaulay and Co. Fine Art:
Walter Scott: A Small Metal Crow with Wings on the Way continues until April 15.

Steffanie Ling's essays, criticism, and art writing have been published alongside exhibitions, in print, and online in Canada and the United States. She is the editor of Bartleby Review, an occasional pamphlet of criticism and writing in Vancouver, and a curator at CSA Space. She is Akimblog’s Vancouver correspondent and can be followed on Twitter and Instagram @steffbao.



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