Flowers East, London E8
Much is made of the tendency to colour in 20th-century Scottish art, from Peploe and Cadell right through to the present day. John McLean, whose recent work has just gone on show in London, is clearly a colourist, though I'm not sure how connected he is with the longer traditions of Scottish art. The outward appearance of his work is more internationally- minded, closer perhaps to American painting in the 1950s and 1960s than anything nearer to home. He lived in New York for a while and for many years has been based in London, yet something about the spirit of his work has always remained tied to his origins on the Scottish east coast.
He's a lyrical and deeply thoughtful artist, though one whose greatest strength can also be his weakness. So much about these pictures depends upon so little - when they work they really work, and when they don't they don't. That's the way with all paintings of course, but you notice it more with an artist like McLean, especially in his most recent work which is even starker, bolder and more singular than in the past. He plays with shapes and colours in a way that seems so simple, but the line between success and failure is a fine one. Most of them dance and jig before the eye: the very best of them sing from corner to corner.
Flowers East, 199-205 Richmond Road, London E8 (0181-985 3333) to 1 AugReuse content