A sculptor, performance artist, filmmaker, and painter, Bruce McLean is one of the most important figures in British contemporary art. This summer, Attenborough Arts Centre will present the most comprehensive exhibition of McLean's Black Garden paintings. His garden paintings have never been shown as a collective in this way in the UK, and the exhibition brings together a selection of paintings created over the last 15 years, including works never exhibited in public.
The paintings are inspired by the beautiful, vibrant garden his wife Rosy has created at the couple's home on the Spanish island of Menorca, where the Mediterranean sunlight casts dark shadows through the greenery. The works showcase McLean's virtuoso technique and dazzling use of colour - hot pinks, cobalt blues, and deep oranges vivid against a dark background. Monumental in scale the paintings hover somewhere between reality and abstraction with hints of pathways, ponds, flowers, and shrubs.
McLean considers the garden as a 'moving sculpture'. Bursting with foliage and flowers - bamboo, bougainvillea, jasmine, yuccas, palms - the outdoor space is constantly transforming, the powerful Mediterranean light and coastal weather conditions continually creating new forms and patterns.
McLean has been investigating the condition of sculpture since the late 1960s, creatively interrogating the possibilities and meaning of sculpture in an extraordinary range of media including performance, installation, public art, printmaking, photography, film, ceramics, and painting.
For McLean the Black Garden paintings are a response to the garden as a physical space, exploring aspects of light and shadow; they are paintings made by a sculptor. "Everything I do comes from the fact that I am a sculptor, although some of it looks like painting, some of it looks like poetry, some of it looks like dance."
Artist: Bruce McLean
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