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HackelBury Fine Art : Ian McKeever : Gerlinde


HackelBury presents Gerlinde, a solo exhibition of new work by Royal Academician Ian McKeever. This new body of work, his most personal to date, is the portrait of a woman, a love letter to his wife. Drawing on abandoned drawings and his archive of photographs which capture everyday objects in a domestic setting, his black and white photographs are filled with light and shadow, providing evocative glimpses of the human presence which merge with silhouetted objects and structures from their home.

McKeever’s emphasis on an abstract language fosters ambiguity. His interest is in pushing the conventional notion of photography as a literal, figurative representative of reality away and establishing a visual language providing only transitory glimpses of reality. This invites the viewer to focus on the compositional elements such as the quality of light and balance of shadow, the drawn line and assembled object, the ‘aura’ of the edge between gouache and photograph, the silhouetted form and the gestural mark.

McKeever is intrigued as to ‘where the image begins and finishes’ and the glimpse of a fleeting moment in which nothing is fixed. His work explores meeting point between the ‘truth’ of photography and the language of painting. The gap between the photograph’s instant reality and the slow incremental process of mark-making in painting.

In some of the work, McKeever has photographed objects against strong sunlight to evoke an almost gestural painting imbued with a calligraphic quality reminiscent of Japanese Shoji screens which were traditionally used to provide visual privacy.

The artist’s exploration of the domestic setting could also be said to be as a meditation on such artists as American photographer Charles Sheeler, whose work in the 1930s, after documenting local buildings for architects, took a new direction when he began photographing the interior of his home, drawing out compositions of solids and spaces. Also, in his use of torn or cut papers, McKeever draws on the poetic language of Matisse’s ‘cut-outs’, to explore the balance and boundaries between abstraction and representation, photography and painting, edge and space, and shadow and light. This new body of work has a cinematic quality in which the artist captures the essence of someone’s presence through objects in the space around them. As Marcel Proust wrote :

“….I am myself again. Pleasure in this respect is like photography. What we take, in the presence of the beloved object, is merely a negative, which we develop later, when we are back at home, and have once again found at our disposal that inner darkroom the entrance to which is barred to us so long as we are with other people.”


Ian McKeever (born 1946) is primarily known as one of the leading British painters of his generation. However, photography has always played an important part in his practise. His early work grew out of a conceptual interest in landscape leading in the mid-1980s to his engaging more fully with the practise of painting. Concurrently over the last twenty years, he has pursued his commitment to photography in such groups of works as Eagduru and Against Architecture. The new Gerlinde series takes further this exploration between photography and its affinity to painting.

In 1989, McKeever received a DAAD scholarship to live and work in Berlin. In 1990 he had a major retrospective at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. Since 1971 he has exhibited extensively including major exhibitions at the Kunstverein Braunschweig in 1987, the Porin Taidemuseo in 1997, the Kunsthallen Brandts Klaederfabrik, Odense in 2001 and 2007, the Morat Institute, Freiburg in 2005 and 2007, the New Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen in 2006, the Royal Academy of Arts, London in 2010, the Sønderjyllands Kunstmuseet in 2011 and the Josef Albers Museum, Quadrat Bottrop in 2012. McKeever has taught extensively in Great Britain, Germany, and the USA. He has held several teaching positions including Guest Professor at the Städel Akademie der Kunst in Frankfurt, Senior Lecturer, Slade, University of London and Visiting Professor at the University of Brighton. In 2003 he was elected a Royal Academician. He has also published many texts and essays primarily concerning the nature of painting. Ian McKeever’s work is represented in leading international public Collections, including Tate, British Museum, Royal Academy of Arts, London; Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna; Museum of Fine Art, Budapest; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk; Glyptotek, Copenhagen; Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Boston Museum of Fine Art and Yale Center for British Art, Connecticut.


Ian McKeever : Gerlinde
June 2 – August 25, 2023
Hackelbury Fine Art LTD
4 Launceston Place
London W8 5RL

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