SALISBURY.- Ceramics have played an increasingly important role in Bruce McLeans practice, which has been in an almost constant state of invention and re-invention, and has encompassed performance, sculpture, installation, public art, painting, printmaking, drawing, photography and film. The works in the current exhibition were originally made for Set in Stoke at the British Ceramics Biennial in 2015, but this is the first time a large group of McLeans ceramics have been shown; en masse, the results are powerful, fluid and painterly. In addition, McLean also shows an example of his tile art on which he worked with Johnson Tiles. Like his plates, McLeans tiles incorporate painted abstract and figurative shapes and lines using a restricted palette of seven colours. Each piece exhibited is unique.
Bruce McLean (b. 1944) studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1961-63. From 1963-66 he attended St Martin's School of Art where he famously reacted against the academic teaching style of his tutors. He stopped conventional studio practice in 1966 for impermanent sculptures made using materials such as water, along with performances of a generally satirical and subversive nature. In Pose Work for Plinths I (1971), for example, photographs record a performance in which McLean appeared in a variety of different positions on plinths in a parody of Henry Moore's reclining figures. He has continued to use humour to confront the pretensions of the art world and wider social issues such as the nature of bureaucracy and institutional politics. From the mid-1970s, whilst continuing to mount occasional performances, McLean turned increasingly to painting and recently started using ceramic.
Bruce McLean has exhibited internationally since the 1960s including: When Attitudes Become Form, Kunsthalle, Bern (1969); Information, MoMA, New York (1970); Documenta 6, Kassel (1977); Art in the Seventies, Venice Biennale (1980); A New Spirit in Painting, Royal Academy, London; Zeitgeist, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (1982); Documenta 7, Kassel (1982); Thought and Action, Laforet Museum, Tokyo (1983); The Critical Eye, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (1984); Out of Actions; Between Performance and the Object, 1949-79, MoCA, Los Angeles (1997); and Body and Void, The Henry Moore Foundation, Hertfordshire (2014). McLeans work is in private and public collections around the world and in 1985 he was awarded the John Moores Painting Prize.