drawings | for seeing the soft and divine in those around us


five drawings — by cullan maclear

Cullan Maclear’s first memory of creating a piece of art takes him back to pre-primary school in Cape Town, South Africa. “We got to draw on small plates and the teacher fired them for us. The plates came out blue with the lines we had drawn in white. I think I drew some sort of smiley face. I think my mom still has it somewhere,” he says.

Now Berlin-based, he has since moved on from carving emojis into crockery—but the focus on faces, and the human form, seems to have stuck. He finds himself drawn towards an image of the divine masculine that is soft in its strength, one that he deems “not visible enough”.

Though he may be reluctant to call himself an artist, Cullan is acutely aware of the power of art:

Art is important to me because I think it has the capacity to connect us with parts of ourselves we might not have known we had––or parts we might have been wanting to explore but not really knowing how to access. I think art, in whatever form, can really lift us up into new ways of thinking and being.

And in this time in world history, when there seems to be a real sense of things shifting––the possibilities of what we can do with our art [and] what we can bring into being—is, to me, really exciting.”

“I'm queer and I make drawings, poems and photographs. I make the work that I make because I want to represent a masculinity which is soft, whole, spiritual and not destructive—more than what we seem to think men and masculinity are capable of being,” he says of his own creative identity.

On the influence of Berlin, Cullan expresses a feeling that may be familiar to anyone who has left one home and come of age in another:

“Being in a new environment has given me a lot of stimulus to channel into making work. Also, witnessing other artists hustling to be heard in this city has really inspired me to work hard and give my art the devotion it deserves. There's a really strong gift and trade economy here. For instance, people leave things that they don't want out on the street or in the stairwells of apartment buildings for other people to pick up. I've gotten drawers, books, clothes, art supplies, linen [and so on].

Something I'm really interested in, in my work, is using what is available to create art. So I might pick up a book and use the last few pages, which are usually blank, to make a drawing. I think this gives the work a really strong energy, something of the spirit of what it was before.”

“I create more from a sense of fantasy or imagined future rather than a sense of memory. I'm trying to explore an image of a divine masculine that I don't think exists yet - or at least is not very visible. One of my main visual references is classical painting, for its depictions of the saints and the sense of ecstasy in those images. I'm always trying to convey a sense of unfolding, sublime movement - even if only in a detail.”

Follow Cullan here