Art | ART BRIEF

'Water, fire, earth'

by Lucy Birmingham

RBR Gallery

Closes on Feb. 26

Looked down any holes lately? What you see is what you get, right?

Not if it’s a hole dug illegally in a closed park, in the middle of the night, under a full moon and by someone wearing a camouflage “ghillie suit.” You know, the kind with burlap and branches, worn by military snipers. . . . Right. Only an artist would be crazy enough to do that.

“An earth hole conjures up all kinds of ideas,” explains Jack McLean, the Scottish illustrator, performance artist and veteran provocateur behind those mysterious 1 meter wide and 50 cm deep “sculptural objects” in London’s Regents Park, New York’s Central Park and Glasgow’s Kelvin Grove Park.

Now “the digger” has struck in Tokyo at an undisclosed park near the RBR art gallery, Hiroo, where McLean, Canadian photographer Patrick Tomlinson and London-based conceptual artist Natasha Rees are offering a provocative exhibition of about 20 works each — dug in with McLean humor. McLean will show his precision-hole drawings and photos of his ghillie suit along with a series of cartoonlike drawings (with inklings of R. Crumb).

Curator Shai Ohayon says, “The three artists, based in three different continents, will contribute a completely different cultural understanding of water, fire and earth.”

In the ’90s McLean courted arrest with some astonishing public art performances throughout Tokyo. A soft-spoken gentleman, pocketing a mischievous hand, he was a precursor to Banksy but without the flash and fame. From about 2000, he discovered a knack for illustration, fostered by characters on the Tokyo subways. Now resettled in Tokyo after earning an MFA at the Glascow School of Art, he’s ready to surprise us with more. Just dig it!

Artists showing: Jack McLean, Patrick Tomlinson and Natasha Rees; (03) 3798-8622; www.rbrart.com/rcc