John McLean: Behind the Mirror
The work in this show was produced in the face of considerable adversity. John was diagnosed with MSA/P – a nasty, neurological disease with some symptoms similar to Parkinson’s - but continued to visit his studio twice a week to produce a remarkable body of work. At the time he remarked: "I do as much painting now in two days as I did in a week when I could work full-time, which amazes me”. McLean went on to say “I think there’s an urgency to my work, driven by how much time I have left.” Richard Morphet, who was Keeper of the Modern Collection at the Tate, said that “as his physical life has become more restricted his imaginative life seems to be getting more and more adventurous. He’s creating very interesting juxtapositions of form and new ideas. He’s in stark, new territory but it’s also very rich.”
Recognised for his colourful, rhythmic style and large scale of his canvases, his work is characterised by the use of simple shapes and bold colour. His paintings depend, for their coherence, on internal relationships and the visible interaction of shapes and colours: static in fact, but dynamic in effect. Colour, texture, tone, transparency, the patterns of the brush, all create a set of active relationships. They lead the eye in and out, suggest visual priorities, one thing moving in front of another and the other pushing back.