In Search of Lost Time: The Art of Cameron Ian MacLeod, 1958 to 1983


November 19, 2008 – January 15, 2009

Legacy Maltwood (at Mearns Centre – McPherson Library)

Curated by Caroline Riedel and Meredith Temple

Cameron Ian MacLeod was the student of such talented painters as Jack Shadbolt, Gordon A. Smith, and Takao Tanabe, until his life was cut short at the age of 25. The exhibit features work by the young artist, along with his three mentors’ paintings.

At the age of three MacLeod experienced a traumatic episode where he underwent open heart surgery. This experience seems to be played out and explored particularly in his later work, which includes open torsos, human & fish skeletons, swirls & spirals of energy, ladders climbing skyward, and crucifixion images.  He produced the main body of his work between 1975 and 1981. During these years he received scholarships and awards, studied in Canada and abroad, and participated in several exhibitions. He also graduated with an Honours B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia.

His earliest series of landscapes and graveyards was influenced by the Group of Seven, Emily Carr and his time in the Queen Charlotte Islands. A second period in his work saw an explosion of colour featuring representational  fractured landscapes and Native Teepees, influenced by the Fauve School, as well as Gordon Smith, Allen Jones and Alan Wood, who instructed him in Banff.

During and after his travels in France and England Cameron started creating delicate but vigorous landscapes, influenced by Cezanne and Van Gogh. His most powerful period incorporated his final figurative works; charcoals and oils in black and white, somewhat Baconesque and also influenced by Giacometti. This final series captured his inescapable journey inward, from which he did not return.

His friend and mentor Jack Shadbolt wrote of Cameron in a 1987 essay, “Every once in a rare while one is confronted with an aspiring young artist who is charged with such passionate dreams and has evidence of such genius vision, though as yet chaotic and unfocused yet so fraught with unusual promise, and yet who is so distressingly fragile in his own psychic uncertainties, that he compels one’s compassion by the very precariousness of his potential self-realization: such a young artist was Cameron MacLeod.”

Cameron MacLeod did a great deal of work in a very short time. And though his life was brief, like a flame he burned brightly, leaving to us as his legacy this powerful body of work. Cameron died in 1983 of heart failure.