john mclean: colour in the interior
“the parts of my paintings relate to each other the way notes and phrases do in music.
i contrast everything: edges, colours, surfaces, shapes.” - John mclean
‘My pictures have no hidden meaning. To understand, all you have to do is look. Everything only works in relation to everything else in the painting… Looking triggers imagination and association…I work in terms of the feelings I can elicit with drawing, colour and surface…”
John McLean’s vibrant works hum and buzz with playful energy and movement on both a grand or intimate scale, picking up from Matisse and running onwards and elsewhere. From his extraordinary stained-glass windows in Norwich Cathedral to the walls of your living room, this is the kind of art – pure joy in colour and abstraction – that speaks to the soul. Today, when we are spending so much time cloistered within our own homes, and the world outside seems bleak, McLean’s aesthetic has a transformative potential. Put simply, colour makes us happy, and the enforced isolation of the past year has made the domestic set-up more important than ever. In the wings: colour. Centre stage: John McLean.
“by monotyping, the time element of painting is defeated. all the colours are on the same screen; so with one sweep of the squeegee the work suddenly appears, complete. each print is a revelation, not an accumulation. tiny flecks of ink from other parts of the print peep through voids in the ink elsewhere, uniting the work like a woven carpet.” - john mclean
In his art there is a unique tension and interplay of colours, with delicately varied shades and saturation – subtle changes of depth, density and texture that evolve the more you stare and imbibe his dabs, blobs, calligraphic lines and dancing shapes. These elements are never still, and McLean’s love of pouring paint, or using a squeegee, translate as a kind of artistic liberation that is more than abstraction.
The idea that our homes matter enough to merit artistic attention may seem superficial to some, but it is this notion that both marks us out as a civilisation, but also as individuals. Paintings can hold a mirror to how we live – or rather, how we wish to live. They can act as a portal to somewhere else. In eschewing the figurative, John McLean’s works offer back to us our own reactions, our own interpretations, and our own feelings, our own desires. That’s powerful. Forza!
Take a virtual tour of John McLean exhibitions in London and Edinburgh.
For more information on the Estate of John McLean please contact our Edinburgh gallery firstname.lastname@example.org
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