When Considering All Knowledge Already Exists : Some Pictures by Tarn McLean

Tarn McLean
Seeing Painting

Grey Street Gallery Southbank Brisbane AU March 20—April 6, 2023

Mike Zahn February 2023

Tarn McLean
Seeing Painting (Yuga Labs Bored Aped with Mona Lisa), 2023 Oil on canvas
42 x 70 inches

Meta-modern artworks are notable for suggesting an engagement with space founded in the perception of a withdrawal from it. This occurs where a sensory field is understood as that wherein objects may be apprehended relative to their position, direction, and size. In an unconventional twist, what is addressed in this respect is how information shapes experience by encoding it though decisive acts of scaled exemption. This indicates more than a typical inversion of standard terms. It implicates a situation where picture making, always a corollary of lived life, becomes a question of engineering rather than one of expression. This is especially true of painting in particular, where claims upon material presence were once commonly accepted.

While it has long been aware of its demise, this non-objective variant of painting reflects upon how communication functions by necessity. It is not reductive in its organization. Instead, when considering the troublesome possibility that all knowledge already exists, meta-modern painting edits from its self-presentation that which interferes with the boding of its end. This compresses the signal-to-noise ratio of a picture’s order, and manages space in new ways using a symbolic logic based upon circumscribed procedures of calibration, deletion, transmission, and reception. It doesn’t generalize, but foregrounds generic factors upon which recognition depends. In doing so, it becomes specific. What this implies is a flexibility of interpretation in addressing how space itself may be built out, with its unique qualities to be explored using formal means which are not strictly literal. Meta-modern painting is hence able to pursue lines of conceptual inquiry without succumbing to the instrumental demands of a representational contract. It imagines how a picture, apart from the particulars of how it is made, might exist in the most highly individuated manner.

Meta-modern artworks staked out upon the novel coordinates set by networked objects, distributed consciousness, and the displacement of authorship may likewise envisage new conditions of interiority, most pointedly given the pressure artificial intelligence exerts upon the trust in universal human creativity. If so, it follows that contiguous notions of gesture, structured by the coincidence of opposites in their fundamental inscription, would be freed from mere binary constraints. The practice of painting might then again become free to draw upon surpluses of reality outside its immediate status, and face that which still remains unknown.

Tarn McLean Instagram
Mike Zahn


  • admin

    George – If you have a chance you should read the online catalogue/book for Tarn McLean’s upcoming exhibit. I think you’ll find connections to the issues that you have discussed in Fractured Space. It takes real purpose to push beyond the boundaries of an exhausted Modernism and see our changed relationship to the history of painting. We are beginning to see that this moment might provide a real opportunity to define something “different” for painting. “Seeing Painting” is linked here and it’s highly recommended! “Images can become abstractions for open ended possibilities.”

Henri values your comments!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.