The Sleep of Reason, a new show by London artist Ryan McLelland, uses linoblock prints and sculpture to present a punky nightmare vision of modern capitalism where zombie consumers frolic and fight in shopping malls and night clubs.
Dazed Digital: Why use linoblock?
Ryan McLelland: I like the aesthetic of relief prints - it echoes the style of arts and crafts, medieval illuminated scripture, and agitprop, all of which inform my practice.
DD: To what extent does your art tell stories?
RM: The print work, in particular, is heavily narrative driven. I think this sort of work is still important to culture, it reflects currents social issues, morality and trends.
DD: Are you "consciously primitive"?
RM: I suppose what I do has a tongue-in-cheek "Art Brut" approach to it - too mush visual information we're confronted by is slick, airbrushed, Photoshopped advertising. People find my work refreshing because it's crudely constructed with outmoded lo-fi craft techniques. If you spend weeks on end cutting a lino block there's real conviction in the image you create.
DD: Your website says your work is social commentary, but do you have a specific point to make?
RM: My interests in the state of society are wide-ranging and multi-layered - we live in a where were religeon has been replaced by consumerism. I'm intrigued how the pressures of modern life manifest themselves in extreme social situations. I focus on the seedier side, as it makes for more compelling stories.
DD: Can contemporary art ever be more startlingly vulgar and primitive than, say, what we read about in the London Paper?
RM: There are lots of good artists making challenging work about the modern world and engaging in issues that are not simply tactics of sensationalism, which the press often rather lazilly rely on to shift units. Art isn't one sided, and lots of different people take away differing experiences from my work. It should be nourishing to the viewers own imagination. Hitchcock was brilliant because he never spelt things out for the audience, he just planted a seed in their mind.
DD: What are you working on next?
RM: I've got a busy year ahead: in the summer, a group show at M&C Saatchi, as well as a project I'm working on with Camden Arts Centre, followed by a show of my sculptural work in the autumn.
The Sleep of Reason is at the Forster Gallery on Rivington Street in London until 24th May.