Whether it is with images of airliners crashed in the forest; roller coasters gone amuck; whales beached among buttes; colossus statues crumbling; ships run aground in the desert; or trashy trailers in the middle of nowhere, Kelly McLane has for years been crafting a view of a world — and sometimes specifically America — in trouble. While those past images have always afforded a certain distance from the mess — suggesting a kind of David Lynchian or Cormac McCarthian underbelly we know is all around us, one that we can avoid if we don’t go looking for it; or a post-apocalypse that we know is coming down the pike in some form but with a few miles to go — McLane’s latest exhibition, titled And Swine Flu Too, is intent on letting us know just how fully immersive and present our state of fucked-upness is.
McLane’s works have often had a cinematic quality, using big-screen tactics adapted for the canvas and designed to fire synapses trained to respond to motion pictures, with pale paintings recalling fades in or out; sweeping horizontals like pan shots or points of view, as if from a boom camera. These latest are suggestive of everything-but-the-kitchen-sink montages; they slow you down and make you grapple with vignettes that seemingly appear one after the next before your eyes, or the kinds of scenes in movies that slam so many small bits of action into a short sequence or single shot as to read as montage. The same holds for McLane’s first sculpture — a collaboration with her husband, Jared Pankin — that builds the narrative sequencing of a frieze into an object in the round.
Pointedly allusive as ever, McLane paints and draws up a world, in her finely drafted and increasingly colorized method, that turns Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage” line from As You Like It on its head, suggesting something more like a global back lot, where extras try to find their places, backdrops and sets are jostled about, and players variously practice their next takes. And what a cast it is — mutant women, sumo wrestlers, headless horsemen, uncles getting creepy with their nieces, plushy mascots, soldiers, adventurers, bubble babies, lots of cowboys and Indians, sharks, buffalo, and the Jolly Green Giant. I couldn’t help but think of the parade of humanity in front of the lens in the movie Airplane, as panic breaks loose inside the fuselage. Assume crash position.
Angles Gallery: 2230 Main St., Santa Monica; Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m., through July 18. (310) 396-5019 or www.anglesgallery.com.