Bruce McLean: A Hot Sunset And Shade Paintings
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Tucked away in a side room in this exhibition is a video of Bruce McLean dancing to Kevin Coyne’s 1973 song ‘I Want My Crown’. Above his head, on a shelf, is a crown-like sculpture. The artist plays it cool, shuffling back and forth, busting his moves. In fairness, he might be in his seventies but he's still quick on his feet – yet the crown stays out of reach. Is the point that now, nearing his dotage, McLean wants widespread acclaim? Surely not. He’s already got it. Probably best not to read too much into it: McLean’s never taken art-making too seriously.
in comparison with the rebellious work of his earlier years – actions, performances, ‘posed’ sculptures that incensed his St Martins tutors – these paintings are a pretty civilised affair. They’re all large, colourful studies of light and shadow, peppered with tumbling trapezoids and looser shapes reminiscent of the late cut-outs of Matisse. Painted in burgundies, terracottas and lilacs, they also look ferociously unfashionable – like something you’d find hanging in an Islington wine bar in the ’80s. Honestly, they’re all much of a muchness. What we seem to be observing here is an artist in his later years taking a contented path down an aesthetic cul-de-sac. It’s basically the painterly equivalent of dad dancing: exuberant, occasionally cringeworthy, but kind of endearing too.