Stephen McKenna

Stephen McKenna, 
Narcissus 1999,
oil on canvas,
90 x 70 cm / 35.4 x 27.6 in   

Stephen McKenna
Man Watching the Moon 2003
oil on canvas
90 x 120 cm / 35.4 x 47.2 in  

Stephen McKenna 
Lighthouse in Mist 1999,
oil on canvas,
40 x 50 cm/
15.7 x 19.7 in   
Stephen McKenna, 
Donegal Bay 2014,
oil on canvas,  
53 x 73 cm framed /
20.9 x 28.7 in framed  
Stephen McKenna,
Villa di Livia with Magpie 2011,
oil on canvas,
93.2 x 73.2 x 4.6 cm /
36.7 x 28.8 x 1.8 in framed
Stephen McKenna 
Interior of Sant’ Anna 2010,
oil on canvas,  
73.2 x 93.2 cm /
28.8 x 36.7 in framed  

Stephen McKenna, Apple Tree, 2010, oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm / 19.7 x 15.7 in  

Stephen McKenna,
La Concha 2009,
oil on canvas,
120 x 180 cm /
47.2 x 70.9 in   
Stephen McKenna ,
Naples Morning 2007,
oil on canvas,
50 x 75 cm /
19.7 x 29.5 in   

Stephen McKenna
Rainy Tree 2007
oil on canvas
60 x 50 cm / 23.6 x 19.7 in  

Stephen McKenna, Barrow Landscape, 2003, oil on canvas, 50.8 x 71.1 cm/ 20 x 28 in   

Stephen McKenna, Helikarnassus, 1980, pencil, 38 x 56 cm / 15 x 22 in

Stephen McKenna
The Barrow Tow Path 2012
oil on canvas
100 x 150 cm / 39.4 x 59.1 in  

Stephen McKenna, Birds Chorus 2, 2013, watercolour on paper, 38.5 x 57.5 cm paper size / 15.2 x 22.6 in paper size 

Stephen McKenna, Dining Table with Still Life, 2015, oil on canvas, 135 x 100 cm / 53.1 x 39.4 in   

Stephen McKenna
Clouds 2014
oil on canvas
50 x 70 cm
19.7 x 27.6 in  

Stephen McKenna Kerlin Gallery 20 October – 26 November 2017 

Additional Views
Siobhán Hapaska and Stephen McKenna
Kerlin Gallery
30 November 2012 – 19 January 2013


Additional Views
Stephen McKenna
Kerlin Gallery
10 September - 9 October 2010
Additional Views
Stephen McKenna
Contrasts & Complementaries
Kerlin Gallery
14 September – 13 October 2007
b. 1939, London.
Stephen McKenna was born in London in 1939, and was living and working in County Carlow at the time of his death in 2017.
A painter impervious to changing fashions, his work nonetheless achieved particular international prominence during the 1980s as part of the neo-classical strain of painterly postmodernism. Yet, for McKenna classicism is more a question of attitude than of subject matter. Overt pictorial references to classical antiquity gave way during the 1990s to a sophisticated exploration of the still life, the interior, the landscape and the seascape, rendering these scenes with great attention to the atmospheric conditions of light, air, space and water. He drew on the hard-won skills and knowledge of the history of painting to create contemporary works that intrigue and question, and have the wherewithal to stand the test of time. 
McKenna has had many major solo exhibitions. Some of the most recent include: The air between things, Stephen McKenna & Isabel Nolan, China OCT Boxes Art Museum, Shunde District, Guangzhou, China, (2019); A Painters Life: Stephen McKenna (1939 – 2017), VISUAL, Carlow, Ireland, (2019); Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, MiMA, Middlesbrough (2014), travelling to Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane (2015); The Paradise [36], Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2013) and Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (2012). Other major solo shows include Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (1983), Stadtische Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf (1986), the Irish Museum of Modern Art (1993), Ca di Fra, Milan (1999), the Douglas Hyde Gallery Dublin (2003), Arp Museum, Rolandseck, Germany (2000) and the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (2005).McKenna participated in Documenta 7, (1982); Classical Spirit, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Falls the Shadow at the Hayward Gallery, London, (1986); Avant Garde of the '80s, Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art, (1987); Dreams & Traditions, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C. (1997) and in 1986, he was nominated for the Turner Prize.
McKenna's work is represented in the collections of The Irish Museum of Modern Art; The Tate, London; The Berlinische Galerie, Berlin; Staedtische Sammlungen, Rheinhausen; Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels; Fries Museum, Leeuwarden, Netherlands and in many other collections, both private and public, worldwide.
Download PDF

Ghosts from the Recent Past, IMMA

1 December 2020 - 26 September 2021

Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin

Gerard Byrne, Dorothy Cross, Siobhán Hapaska, Brian Maguire, Stephen McKenna, William McKeown, Isabel Nolan and Kathy Prendergast in Ghosts from the Recent Past at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. This group exhibition presents artworks from the IMMA Collection from the 1980s onwards.

More Info

Stephen McKenna & Isabel Nolan, The air between things

OCT Boxes Art Museum, Shunde District, Guangzhou, China

15 May – 12 July 2019

"THE AIR BETWEEN THINGS", a two person exhibition by Stephen McKenna and Isabel Nolan, curated by Daniel Kennedy, at OCT Boxes Art Museum, Shunde District, Guangzhou, China.

More Info

A Painters Life: Stephen McKenna (1939-2017)

VISUAL, Carlow

February 9 - May 19, 2019

VISUAL are delighted to present an important exhibition of works celebrating the life and legacy of artist Stephen McKenna PPRHA.

More Info

Stephen McKenna, 1939–2017

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our friend and colleague
Stephen McKenna. Stephen passed away at his home in County Carlow on 4 May 2017. 

More Info

Stephen McKenna, Perspectives of Europe

Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin, Ireland

23 July – 4 October 2015

Solo exhibition

This unique exhibition features works created throughout McKenna’s career, focusing specifically on cityscapes, parks and trees.

More Info

Stephen McKenna, Landscapes of the Mind

Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City

25 March – 21 June 2015

Group exhibition

Many of Tate's finest oil paintings, watercolours and drawings, prints and photographs –from Stephen McKenna, to Turner and Constable, Burra and Hockney– will be seen in the context of the literary, philosophical, political and social forces which shaped the nation's growth over nearly three centuries.

More Info

Stephen McKenna,Perspectives of Europe 1980 – 2014

mima (Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art), UK

6 February – 7 June 2015

While McKenna has lived and worked in various countries since the 1960s, since 1998 he has been based in Ireland. This exhibition will be the artist’s largest museum solo presentation in over a decade and will feature work from throughout his career including landscapes, cityscapes, trees, with loans both nationally and internationally.

More Info

Dorothy Cross, David Godbold, Richard Gorman, Stephen McKenna & Kathy Prendergast, 'Meditation on Plates'

Casino Marino, Dublin

12 July - 31 October 2014

The Office of Public Works will present an exhibition 'Meditation on Plates: Inspired by Lord Charlemont's Casino' in one of Ireland's most highly regarded historic buildings, the Casino at Marino, Dublin.

A group of almost 40 esteemed Irish and international artists, designers and architects was invited to respond to the Casino building, some of its ornamental elements or surroundings in a personal drawing. The artists' drawings have been transferred onto porcelain plates and reproduced in a limited edition of 18 plates per artist. The resulting collection is rich in its variety of interpretations and the quality and  beauty of the work.

More Info

David Godbold, Elizabeth Magill, Eoin McHugh, Stephen McKenna, amongst others, 'Things go Dark'

The Model, Sligo

3 May - 29 June 2014

Things go Dark presents a visual exploration of the principles of aestheticism through the work of nine contemporary Irish artists. The paintings in this exhibition lure the viewer into a world of beauty, fear, tension, dark comedy and suspense. Working in various pictorial languages these artists invoke an intense emotional response that demands to be put into sensible form, while at the same time overwhelming all attempts to do so. Their work explores the possibility of a space of immediacy, which remains outside the workings of power and history.

More Info

Stephen McKenna, Drawings and Watercolours: 1974 - 2013

Butler Gallery, Kilkenny

8 March - 20 April 2014

The Butler Gallery presents Stephen McKenna: Drawings and Watercolours 1974 - 2013.


This exhibition will be dedicated to the works on paper by Carlow based artist Stephen McKenna. Concerned with the enduring value of the time-honoured genres of the still life, the interior, the landscape and the seascape, these works on paper, mostly pencil on paper, reveal a looser body of work by this accomplished artist.

More Info

'Stephen McKenna finds the unity in fragmentation', The Irish Times

by Aidan Dunne

4 August 2015

The Irish Times

"It’s not just that McKenna depicts a succession of interconnected rooms and occasional views to the outside world beyond. His interiors are both studios and homes. They open up other, multiple, imaginative spaces via depictions of paintings completed or in progress, books that suggest avenues of thought and enquiry, geological samples, vessels, food and drink, swathes of fabric and, though not in the current show, musical instruments.

"Each interior is a world. Add the warm glow of Mediterranean light and you have something irresistible, but also stirring and involving: spaces of possibility."

- Aidan Dunne, The Irish Times

Download PDF Visit Website

Kerlin Gallery

Stephen McKenna

16 December 2012

The Sunday Times

This show juxtaposes Siobhán Hapaska’s cryptic and contemporary sculptures/assemblages with the classical formality of Stephen McKenna’s paintings. This contrast works well: McKenna’s still and stately paintings balance Hapaska’s busy contraptions. Her exquisite For Eyes That Are Full, a leather gourd bedecked with pheasant feathers, even finds an echo in McKenna’s Triple Head hanging nearby.

McKenna has 16 pieces on show and his usual tropes are on display: the lush greenery, the classical architecture, the formal interiors, and even an eye-catching nude. A couple of recent pieces, Piranesi I and Piranesi II, are architectural tributes to the Italian artist. Hapaska has claimed the purpose of art is “confusing the masses”. She may have achieved this with her four pieces. Those who seek for meaning and message may depart none the wiser. Those who stay to admire the visual chutzpah of her surreal assemblages will be rewarded.

- John P O’Sullivan 

Visit Website

This Is Your Audio Guide

Stephen McKenna


Frieze Emdash

The winner of the 2012 Emdash Award was Cecile B. Evans whose project was an audio guide, featuring McKenna's Dead Nude painting, to Frieze London accompanied by a holographic ‘host’. This Is Your Audio Guide featured a panel of non-art experts that described works from the fair in a subjective manner. The panel included notable figures from media, pop culture, politics and science. Evans aimed to intervene in the vocabulary typically employed by the contemporary art market and introduce a different type of language to the fair, one based on feelings rather than material, price or provenance.

‘Host’ Simon Schama introduces experts including Rabbi Lionel Blue, Sophie Dahl and Patrick Moore who all comment on works that could be found at the 2012 fair.

Visit Website

42 Carlton Place

Stephen McKenna

5 May 2012


The debut exhibition at the gallery at 42 Carlton Place, “Ever Since I put Your Picture in a Frame,” is a refreshingly thoughtful and diverse selection of painting both contemporary and from the early 20th Century. The gallery is a project of the painters Carol Rhodes and Merlin James; curated by James, “Ever Since...” clearly shows the touch of a painter. 

- William Corwin

Download PDF Visit Website