In the 1980s McLean, whose long career has been an unfettered exploration of abstraction and a unique journey into colour, was invited as guest artist to the University of Saskatchewan's Emma Lake workshop. The paintings in this exhibition were produced there. This is the first time they have been shown together or seen in the UK.
Having spent the 1960s and 1970s working in London as part of the renowned Stockwell Depot stable of artists, McLean visited Emma Lake five times in the 1980s. The workshop's history is legendary in the modern art world: all accounts mention the renowned names of the "workshop leaders", as they are called. Prominent among them, after Barnett Newman in 1959, were Clement Greenberg in 1962, Kenneth Noland in 1963, Jules Olitski in I964, John Cage in 1965 and Frank Stella in 1967. Ron Kitaj was there in 1970, Anthony Caro in 1977, John Elderfield and Friedel Dzubas in 1979. John McLean says that it was the quality of light in Saskatoon which he found so inspiring from the outset: "it was far stronger, brighter and clearer than I had ever seen. I reveled in it: so much so that, throughout the eighties I kept going back to the workshop, and sometimes spent whole summers in the city."