John MacLean, Gainsborough Studios, London N1 5EB.
John MacLean makes playfully serious, reflexive photographs.
He is not a conceptual artist but is clearly fascinated by the concepts that underpin photography. For this reason, he doesn’t shy away from his work being labelled, ‘photography about Photography’.
However, he tries—whilst freely acknowledging the difficulty of the task—to make photographs that are conducive to thinking about how we perceive the world, and our place within it.
His primary method is to play against the pre-programmed nature of the camera. The misalignment between how the camera ‘sees’ (mechanically, optically) and how we see (psychologically) is considered fertile territory for his investigations.
Whilst firmly believing that artists don’t own the meaning of their work, John is confident that his photographs provide gambits for conversations on culture, philosophy and science.
He wholeheartedly embraces photography’s newfound universality, inclusivity and status as a lingua franca. Thus, he attempts to get ideas ‘into’ his photographs without relying on text—which is exclusive.
Each of his projects represents another step in the process of reverse engineering his infatuation with photography.
Conversations. ‘The world is a fabric we weave daily on the great looms of information’. Olga Tokarczuk.
Two and Two. ‘It is precisely the obscurity of the box which motivates the photographer to take photographs. They lose themselves inside the camera in search of possibilities’. Willem Flusser.
Outthinking the Rectangle. ‘It has been the special genius of our century to investigate things in relation to their context, to come to see the context as formative on the thing, and finally, to see the context as a thing itself’. Thomas McEvilley.
New Colour Guide. ‘The basis of colour is instability. Once you accept that—in lieu of something which is stable (form)—you are dealing with something which is unstable, you begin to find a way of dealing with it.’ Bridget Riley.
Hometowns. ‘Nothing is so well observed, nothing is so real, as what we see for the first time, in childhood, adolescence and youth’. David Bellos.
Your Nature. ‘Nature is always against us, because it knows no meaning, no pity, no sympathy, because it knows nothing and is absolutely mindless: the total antithesis of ourselves.’ Gerhard Richter.
City. ‘At any street corner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face: the stage sets collapse.’ Albert Camus.
Small Victories. ‘No structure, even an artificial one, enjoys the process of entropy. It is the ultimate fate of everything, and everything resists it.’ Philip K Dick.
A to B. ‘Death not merely ends life, it also bestows upon it a silent completeness, snatched from the hazardous flux to which all things human are subject.’ Hannah Arendt.
Selected Recent Exhibitions
2021. Send Me An Image. C/O Berlin.
2020. Conversations. Small is Beautiful. Flowers Gallery.
2020. Conversations. PhotoLondon. Flowers Gallery.
2019. Outthinking the Rectangle. Moving the Image. Camberwell Space.
2019. Your Nature. Contemporary. Flowers Gallery.
2018. Your Nature. Unseen at ParisPhoto.
2018. Hometowns. Grand Prix Fotofestiwal Lodz, Poland.
2018. Homeward Bound. Curated by Aaron Schuman.
2017. Oxford Photo Festival.
2017. Trabojos de Artista, Galeria La Puntual, Barcelona.
2017. Hometowns. Format Festival, Derby.
2016. Out of Obscurity. Flowers Gallery, London.
2015. Hometowns. Paris Photo Restaged, at Flowers Gallery.
2015. Hometowns. Unseen Amsterdam with Flowers Gallery.
2015. Radical Color, Newspace Center Photography USA.
2014. Hometowns. Brighton Photo Biennial.
2014. Hometowns. New Galerie im Hohmannhaus (Germany).
2014. A to B. On Landscape, (London).
2013. New Colour Guide. Dispara Xestion Cultural (Spain).
2012. New Colour Guide. Uncommon Ground. Flowers Gallery (London).
2011. City. For Japan. Hotshoe Gallery (London).
2011. City. Flowers Gallery (London)
2011. City. Continuum, Intervention Gallery (London)
2010. Two and Two. Solo Exhibition. Flowers Gallery (London).
Selected Recent Bibliography
2022. Flora Photographica. Your Nature. Thames and Hudson.
2021. Send Me An Image. From Postcards to Social Media. Steidl.
2021. Great Photography. Edited by Gemma Padley. Published by Quarto.
2021. ABC. Proposals for Paris. Conversations.
2020. Source Magazine. Outthinking the Rectangle Review.
2019. Camera Austria. Outthinking the Rectangle.
2019. Newsflesh. Gnomic Books. Hometowns.
2019. Yet Magazine Issue 11. Outthinking the Rectangle.
2019. There There Issue 3. Hometowns.
2019. 1000 Words Issue 30. Outthinking the Rectangle.
2019. OurCulture Magazine. Outthinking the Rectangle.
2018. GUP Magazine. Hometowns.
2017. Closing Ceremony Magazine. Two and Two.
2017. Photoworks. Hometowns.
2017. Another Magazine: 8 Photographers You Need to Know About.
2017. British Journal of Photography. Hometowns.
2017. American Suburb X. Hometowns.
2017. European Photography Magazine. Hometowns.
2017. Elephant Magazine. Hometowns.
2016. Yet Magazine. Hometowns.
2016. Landscape Stories. Hometowns.
2015. Photomonitor. Hometowns.
2015. Der Grief Magazine. Hometowns.
2014. Camera Austria. Hometowns.
2014. Paper Journal. New Colour Guide.
2014. Thames and Hudson: Photographers’ Sketchbooks.
2014. Gomma Books. A to B.
2013. SeeSaw Magazine. Hometowns.
2013. GUP Magazine. New Colour Guide.
2012. Source, The Photographic Review Issue 73. New Colour Guide.
2012. LPV Magazine. New Colour Guide.
2012. Photoworks Magazine. Showcase.
2011. Source, The Photographic Review. A to B.
2011. Album-Magazine fur Photografie. Two and Two.
2010. 1000 Words. City.
2010. British Journal Photography. Two and Two.
2010. Francis Hodgson review ‘Playing games with Real Life’. Two and Two.
2010. Source, The Photographic Review. ‘Neighbourhood’.
2009. IANN, Contemporary Art Photography Magazine (FOIL Japan).
Awards / Selected Book Exhibitions
2021. Interiors. Printed Matter NYC.
2020. Interiors. The ICA. ABC Days.
2020. Interiors. Centre for Artists’ Publications, Bremen.
2019. Your Nature. FT Weekend Pick. PhotoLondon 2019.
2019. Outthinking the Rectangle. Photobookshow, Lithuania.
2018. Nominated for The Deutsche Borse Photography Foundation Prize.
2017. Winner: Yet Magazine Issue 11 Open Call.
2017. Finalist: Renaissance Prize.
2017. Winner: Kassel Experts’ Best Photobooks.
2016. Winner: Best International Photobook 2016.
2016. The Photobook Exhibition, Benaki Museum, Athens
2015. The Luma Book Awards, Arles. Special Mention.
2014. Photobookshow, Tokyo, Japan.
2014. Infocus. Phoenix Art Gallery, USA.
2013. A Fair, Kansas, USA. Curated by Travis Shaffer.
2013. Paris Photo, LePhotobookFest.
2012. Flash Forward, Boston. June 2012.
2011. Krakow Photomonth,
2011. Flash Forward (Boston),
2011. The International Book Fair (Kassel),
2011. Berlin Book Fair,
2011. New York Photo Festival