Wieden + Kennedy Portland ft. Ellen McFadden

After making an exhausting overnight trip from San Francisco, I arrived in Portland, the biggest city of Oregon.  Because I wasn’t able to check in at the hotel, I headed into the city for a long walk before deciding to return to the hostel.  However, suddenly, in an area of many breweries, I spotted the Wieden + Kennedy Gallery – Ellen McFadden. Intrigued, I stepped inside and asked the guy at the reception if it would be possible to speak with someone who can explain the exhibition. However, no one was available.  Despite that, I spent 45 minutes to look at paintings done by Ellen McFadden.

At the age of 86/87, she has an impressive career in graphic design and is a living legend in Portland and the greater Oregon region.  She still works, teaches, and give courses at several colleges, universities, schools, arts academies in the United States and throughout the world. At her age, it’s still remarkable to have exceeded the typical age of retirement and to still be in her profession. Where the passion still flows, it can’t distinguish. Her paintings have a distinctive style. As McFadden explained on her website,

“I see the two dimensional surface as the basis for tension and interaction with shape and the four outside edges. Color is a part of that interaction. Perhaps that vision comes from my years of graphic design, working with a defined two dimension space and it’s restrictions.”

For me, the paintings are perfectly in balance. The colors are well chosen. It reminds me of Cubism and the paintings of Mondrian. While you may see some influences of Raymond Loewyn in McFadden’s early days of graphic designer. The paintings are so sophisticated that they are timeless. Basic lines and figures are repeating over and over again in the same or different colour. It feels like an transition of the ‘old days’ of graphic design evolving to the abstract usage of digital editing on the computer. You can admire these paintings for hours and can see new things.

Paintings by Ellen McFadden – Wieden + Kennedy Gallery
24 NW 13th Avenue, Portland, OR 97209

April 2 – May 29 2015
pening reception April 2 6 – 9 pm

M-F 9-6
eekends by appointment
al +1 5049377333

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