ART REVIEW: "Siobhan McClure: Driven Into Paradise: The Tale of Pearl"-Richard Heller Gallery

My CFO and I recently attended another exhibit at the Bergamot Station Galleries, an exhibit by a Los Angeles-based artist named Siobhan McClure. “Driven into Paradise”, located in the Richard Heller Gallery, was a unique and wonderful exhibit with a compelling running narrative. The paintings and sketches in the collection wove a tale of an alternate world from ours where all cities and technology have crumbled under their own weight, and the only survivors are the children and the rats, who must flee to the wilderness to survive.

The bulk of the story was expressed in several large canvasses, which, in an interesting technique, were divided into halves, allowing the viewer to see two simultaneous worlds: the “Below”, the dismal underground land of work and technology, and the “Beyond”, an aboveground land of peace and wilderness to which the children escape following the destruction of the city. As an artist, I admired the detailed and accurate use of two perspectives to tell the story. The works “System Failure: Electric, System Failure: Water”, and “System Failure: Gas” (reproduced below), are divided between the “Below”, and the “Beyond”, and depict the children working together to escape the “Below” and reach the “Beyond” as the cold, empty city crumbles.


The finale, “Driven into Paradise” (reproduced below), depicts the children gathering in the wilderness while the city burns in the distance. The children are led by the titular Pearl, a girl in a white nightgown who appears in both “Driven into Paradise” and “System Failure: Gas”. This narrative seemed almost like a warning that if we humans do not change our ways, our obsessions with material possessions and industrialization, we will crumble under our own weight and all that we deemed important will be reduced to dust, with only the innocent children surviving our downfall.


The paintings were painted in acrylic on canvas, in a simplistic, static manner that belied the complexity and bleakness of the subject matter. In the adjoining room were charming sketches of the children organizing themselves, working, and playing in their new wilderness home, representing a sort of happy ending for the dark story. In addition, there was a full-sized, unfinished draft of one of the System Failure paintings, which provided insight into the technique and development of the finished work hanging in the next room.

This exhibit was an eye-opening look at our society and the repercussions our actions may cause, and I would recommend my readers to see it. However, this exhibit has closed, but I will definitely make a point of seeing works by Siobhan McClure in the future, and I recommend my readers to do the same.


  1. Excellent I am bummed that I can't see the exhibit! You have done an amazing analysis of the works you saw and have brought the works alive! Seemed a bit depressing and scary ...but definitely thought provoking.

  2. This site is an excellent forum for sharing analysis and commentary on artists, exhibits and various mediums of art in our society. I am going to share this site with the art teachers at my school in New York and hope that they will use it as an example of a student-generated, practical extension of the traditional high school art class!


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