If there is an allegory in Jeff McMillan’s Hercules paintings, it may not take place in a heroic landscape, but rather in a world where everyday refuse finds reuse and recovery.
His found materials—a stone wrapped in paper to begin a mark-making process; recycled cardboard boxes cured of corrugated brown in a dipping process that celebrates the simple planar nature of the container; paintings attached to the exterior walls of his London studio or to a grounded boxcar in a cotton field, waiting for the weather to complete the task of the artist—all this work speaks to McMillan’s particular collaboration with natural processes, alchemy of aging and duration, finding as opposed to acquiring, discovery not display.
The Hercules paintings, made of recycled linen, steeped in thinned oil paint, ironed, and pinned to the wall, offer more than some overly conceptualized act of non-painting. These images (yes, they are images), framed by dipped edges, strategically folded to suggest perspective, focal point, or even horizon, find the back door to beauty. No window to an imaginary landscape is needed, though vistas will open in the gaze of a viewer wise to the opportunity.