liverpool biennial independents 2004

Independent Districtindependent dist Georgian Quartergeorgian quarter City Centralcity central Docklandsdocklands Artistsartists

Archived 2008, another new folder

  Feeding the 5000  

Feed the 5000
Biennial opening night
Independent District


  Detail from 'After the Banquet' by Jane Hughes  

Jane Hughes
Myrtle Group
Liverpool Biennial 2004


  Detail from work by Steve Gent  

Steve Gent
Liverpool Biennial 2004


  Detail from 'Amongst these dark Satanic mills' by David Hancock  

David Hancock
Le Petit Paysage
Liverpool Biennial 2004

  Detail from work by John McLean for  the Ten exhibition during Liverpool Biennial 2004

John McLean



12 Prince's Dock


John McLean has been at the forefront of abstract painting throughout the last quarter of the Twentieth Century. For many of those years he worked with close valued colour. His being deeply moved by the great Matisse retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York of 1992 and by the similarly ambitious Miro show in Barcelona shortly afterwards seems to have triggered his using black more; black as a colour rather than a dark value. Like Matisse, he developed a strong, intuitive yet sophisticated understanding of the relationship between shapes and the field around them. The drama of Miro's palette also found a response in McLean's work.

'The Space Between', McLean's most recent solo exhibition at the Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh and at Flower's East, London, referred to the possibility of making space as palpable as the things in it. The title is taken from an essay by the late Peter Smithson, in which the architect traced back his experience of the positive use of emptiness to a municipal housing scheme of Mies Van Der Rohe's in the afrikanischestrasse, Berlin. The exquisitely judged space between its simple cuboid blocks and the road was crucial to the success of the design.

This is paralleled in McLean's work by the painter's shapes, which not only cohere among themselves but also bind together with the ground, forcing the latter into just as frontal a role as the elements floating on them.

To continue the analogy with architecture, there is also a sense in which McLean's paintings command much more space than they might conventionally be seen to take up on the wall. They activate interiors that would otherwise read as inert. Because the invitation is as much to look across the paintings as into them, they seem to have as much architectural presence as the parts making up the buildings they inhabit.

It should go without saying that all this is achieved through an inspired attention to the minutest variations in touch, edge and surface as well as of colour, shape and rhythm.

John McLean was born in Liverpool in 1939. Selected exhibitions include Talbot Rice Gallery University of Edinburgh 1975, Nicola Jacobs Gallery 1980, Byck Gallery Kentucky 1982, Artspace Galleries Aberdeen 1982, Kapil Jariwala NY 1988, Francis Graham-Dixon Gallery London 1991, Talbot Rice gallery Edinburgh 1994, Flowers East London 1999, Flowers East London 2004.

He has had regular one man shows in Scotland, Canada, the USA and England. His work is held at numerous corporate and public collections including De Beers London and Tate Gallery.


Artists represented at 12 Prince's Dock

Craig Atkinson
Maurice Cockrill
Terry Duffy
John Hoyland
Glenn Humphrey
Julie Jones
John McLean
Arthur Roberts
Jason Thompson
Christine O'Reilly Wilson



Archived February 2008, another new folder