John McLean left a successful teaching career and turned to painting full-time aged 30. Today he lives with his wife on a coastal farmlet, in a self-built house, studio and workshop. McLean is adamant that this context gives his creativity both nourishment and a firm grounding.
John McLean’s paintings have been described as pseudo-Surrealist, drawing on a rich visual vocabulary that is inspired by his early foray into landscape painting and the north Taranaki countryside where he has resided for the last 33 years. His style can be compared with fellow Taranaki artist Michael Smither, for whom McLean worked as an assistant in the early 1970s.
Within this framework McLean explores Jungian notions regarding the individual and collective unconscious, and age-old archetypes of humanity that are found in folklore, myth and traditional tales, to illuminate personality and narrative.
As McLean says, ‘… such vehicles carry penetrating and enduring statements about our common humanity.’ This pursuit has lead to a chronological style of imagery within his works, which function as visual parables or allegories.
McLean was the 2011 recipient of the Waikato Society of Arts NZ Painting and Printmaking Award (the Vela Award). Judge Warwick Brown selected his painting Dinghy and Waka with Unstable Foreshore Structures from the works of 52 finalists.
John McLean’s work enjoys widespread appeal amongst art historians, dealers and admirers alike, who appreciate his work both for its aesthetic qualities, as well as its deeper meanings and associations.
Today McLean lives with his wife on a coastal farmlet, in a self-built house, studio and workshop. He is adamant that this context gives his creativity both nourishment and a firm grounding.
In addition to his painting practice McLean also sculpts stone, generally Taranaki Andersite. The motifs pursued in this medium generally follow the subjects he pursues with paint.