John McLean: Sculpture from Painting

5 March - 1 April 2010

Making sculpture is more an impulse than an idea for me; but writing about the work might make it seem more rational than instinctive. An artist’s intentions are multiplex and hard to pin down. And even when they can be clearly articulated they are not necessarily relevant. Ideally no one should be suggesting what the viewer ought to see. I have always wanted my art to speak for itself.


The boundaries between painting, sculpture and architecture are indefinite. What would Notre Dame du Haut be without Corbusier’s stained glass and enamelled doors? Or Vierzehnheiligen pilgrimage church without its equally integral paint and sculpture? All of my free standing pieces are close to the paintings and collages: they have the same vocabulary of simple shapes, and are equally reliant on colour. Polychromy in sculpture never died out but since Cubism it has had new vigour. Some twentieth-century artists made their coloured three dimensional inventions only in ceramic: Matisse and Léger for example. Fired glazes fuse with clay in a way brushed paint doesn’t with metal. But that didn’t inhibit Calder, Smith, Caro and many more. There is still a lot of scope in this region.


John McLean