Bruce McLean is showing sculpture, painting, prints, ceramics, films, a flag, the design and making of a school, posters, records of performance -all examples, of his extraordinary range of art activity over the last 60 years. For many years Bruce was a friend and collaborator with the artist and writer Mel Gooding who died in 2021 and this exhibition is in part a celebration of their incisive and often humorous interaction..
It is serendipitous that this exhibition acts as a prelude to The Summer Project, a 9 day residency at The Cut in 2024 promoting multiform art activity of which Bruce has been in the vanguard.
In the summer of 2013 Bruce McLean and Mel Gooding, as Knife Edge Press, presented a retrospective exhibition of their collaborative work over the previous 28 years beginning with the publication in 1985 of Dreamwork. The work was beautifully installed by Curator Sophia Yadong Hao and technician Andrew Dodds in Cooper Gallery at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee. Invited to undertake a brief residency at the gallery to accompany the exhibition, McLean and Gooding, having unavoidable commitments elsewhere, proposed an Invisible Residency, in which they would be absent presences, each day of the exhibition presenting, at a distance, exchanges of text and image (the essential modus of the publications on display). These email exchanges were projected on to the wall of the stairwell approaching the gallery, day by day.
The images were sent to Mel from Bruce as provocations to thought and utterance, prompts to immediately improvised texts that might be ironic, enthusiastic, critical, philosophical, and personal. These exchanges would constitute a kind of conversation, combining image and language, without premeditation or programme, conducted in public. There emerged themes that made the notion of an ‘Invisible Residency’ peculiarly appropriate: the idea of art as both visible and invisible; the notion that meaning in art is a hidden energy, generated by thought, feeling and a multi-faceted discourse that requires no academic constraints, but which might be informal, as well as formal, personal as well as critical. The exchanges disclose aspects of a creative-critical collaborative friendship that subvert continuously the received idea of the analytic and the imaginative as oppositional. They demonstrate, rather, a necessary dialectic, by turns heuristic and hermeneutic, ironic, and comic, serious, and frivolous.