Hide and Seek: Heather V McLeod

Trotter&Sholer is pleased to present Hide and Seek, a solo show by Heather V McLeod. This exhibition offers a contemporary and unique exploration of portraiture and its role in fine art today. McLeod’s portraits do not offer her viewers easy access to her subjects, rather she obscures or dissects them into deconstructions.


For McLeod, the physical form is a starting place. She paints portraits that render faithful likenesses of her subjects, but with intentional subversive additions or subtractions. She approaches her subjects with a curiosity about questions of identity and self, and a keen awareness about the pliability of form and likeness. In works such as Pineapple, or Susan’s Not Mine, McLeod offers us the whole; we get a wide view of the subject, but we are not privy to the face.


The Ear Project, conversely, offers a detailed portrait of her sitters’ ear as a synecdoche or stand-in for the entire individual. The Ear Project is made up of miniature portraits, 3.5 by 2.5 inches, of 160 individual ears. McLeod also shows ear portraits individually, or in smaller groups. They offer a cerebral take on portraiture, linking the visual to the auditory. With the Wreaths, McLeod expands on the project, presenting one ear encircled in foliage that offers further hints to identity. Her portraits require the viewer to consider whether we ever get a full understanding of an other’s identity and whether this understanding is related to likeness.


McLeod’s portraits brush up against the surreal. They tease the conscious mind with familiar details but leave dreamlike gaps. If You’re Hungry depicts two figures with apples obscuring their faces, a reference to Magritte’s Son of Man. McLeod’s work, however, is more grounded than conventional surrealism. The apples have weight, they are held in space by arms whose muscles are doing work. The partial lips and eyes that escape from behind the apple are faithfully rendered. Nonetheless the action is unexpected and unconnected to natural or real behavior. The viewer is left with the impression that the work is grounded in truth, but that our access to it is limited. They touch the surreal but keep one foot rooted firmly in the real. Much like dreams reveal truths to the dreamer, but the details are often incongruous with our expectations of easy, linear story telling.


Hide and Seek will be on view at 168 Suffolk Street, New York, NY from Feb. 18th through March 14th.