“Each time I paint someone it’s always different, because no two bodies are the same, no two people are the same,” says Matti McLean, creator of The Human Canvas Project. “Some are smooth, some are bigger, some are smaller, some are hairier — which is always the hardest!”
McLean is a published author, a playwright, a stage and screen actor, and a visual artist; he is constantly driven to be creating. Since starting The Human Canvas Project in April, he has painted more than 130 people, sometimes featuring pairs of siblings, friends or lovers. He asks participants to create a playlist of 10 songs from his music library and then choose up to five paint colours. The playlist starts and he has as long as the music lasts to create a piece of body art, using the participants as canvases.
The project has reached many, but it grew out of something very personal. “Many years ago I had an eating disorder,” McLean explains. “It’s something I’ve never truly been comfortable with in my own head. To have this project as an outlet to see myself in a new light and see how I look painted, and to get that feedback from other people — it helps to change your perspective and your perception of yourself, how other people see you, which has pretty much turned into the mandate of this project.”
The exhibition, at Glad Day Bookshop, opens with an evening that promises live exhibits of the project, a dance performance and a companion book.
The Human Canvas Project opens Sat, Nov 3, 8pm at Glad Day Bookshop, 598 Yonge St.