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Stephen McKenna

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 skilled painter and draughtsman working within a wide range of pictorial genres, Stephen McKenna viewed modernity through a rubric of classicism. Using formal elements of shape, structure and light, his works often seek the abstract and indeterminate within the physical world, imposing a geometric clarity onto cityscapes, still life and mythological scenes. Like the early 20th-century metaphysical paintings that inform them, his paintings capture more than the sum of their parts – hinting at an intangible, spiritual realm beneath the surface. The serenity of McKenna’s paintings is often punctured by eccentric birds, animals, or animated figures, while domestic interiors, landscapes and seascapes are invigorated by atmospheric conditions of light, air, space and water. Born in London and living and working in County Carlow at the time of his death in 2017, McKenna traveled extensively within Europe, having lived and worked in Germany, Belgium and Italy. Erudite and cosmopolitan, McKenna responded to the classical European tradition, as well as developments in Modern and Postmodern painting, to develop a highly personal and idiosyncratic approach to the medium, creating contemporary works that continue to intrigue.

Selected Works

Selected Works Thumbnails
Clouds 2014

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

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dining table with still life K1511

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

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Birds chorus 2

Stephen McKenna
Birds Chorus 2, 2013
watercolour on paper
38.5 x 57.5 cm / 5.2 x 22.6 in paper size 

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The Barrow Tow Path 2012 K1210

Stephen McKenna
The Barrow Tow Path, 2012
oil on canvas
100 x 150 cm / 39.4 x 59.1 in  
103 x 153 cm / 40.6 x 60.2 in framed  

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Rainy Tree 2007 K1407

Stephen McKenna
Rainy Tree, 2007
oil on canvas
60 x 50 cm / 23.6 x 19.7 in  
62 x 52.3 x 4.9 cm / 24.4 x 20.6 x 1.9 in framed

 

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Crack Willow 2003

Stephen McKenna 
Crack Willow, 2003
oil on canvas
120 x 180 cm / 47.2 x 70.9 in   

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Stephen McKenna 
Angel, Venus & Mermaid, 2003
oil on canvas
160 x 120 cm / 63 x 47.2 in   

Stephen McKenna 
Angel, Venus & Mermaid, 2003
oil on canvas
160 x 120 cm / 63 x 47.2 in   

Inquire
Stephen McKenna 
Sea with Jumping Figure, 2001
oil on canvas
50 x 65 cm / 19.7 x 25.6 in   
 

Stephen McKenna 
Sea with Jumping Figure, 2001
oil on canvas
50 x 65 cm / 19.7 x 25.6 in   
 

Inquire
Stephen McKenna 
Head, 2000
oil on canvas
36 x 30 cm / 14.2 x 11.8 in   

 

Stephen McKenna 
Head, 2000
oil on canvas
36 x 30 cm / 14.2 x 11.8 in   

 

Inquire
Narcissus, K9930

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

Inquire
Stephen McKenna 
Cigar Smoker in Snow, 2003
oil on canvas
90 x 70 cm / 35.4 x 27.6 in   
 

Stephen McKenna 
Cigar Smoker in Snow, 2003
oil on canvas
90 x 70 cm / 35.4 x 27.6 in   
 

Inquire
Stephen McKenna 
Small Gate at Terni, 1998
oil on canvas
40 x 50 cm / 15.7 x 19.7 in   
58 x 68 cm / 22.8 x 26.8 in framed  

Stephen McKenna 
Small Gate at Terni, 1998
oil on canvas
40 x 50 cm / 15.7 x 19.7 in   
58 x 68 cm / 22.8 x 26.8 in framed  

Inquire
Stephen McKenna 
Inside The Hill, 1991
oil on canvas
150 x 200 cm / 59.1 x 78.7 in   

Stephen McKenna 
Inside The Hill, 1991
oil on canvas
150 x 200 cm / 59.1 x 78.7 in   

Inquire
Stephen McKenna 
The Attributes of Painting, 1979
oil on canvas
60 x 80 cm / 23.6 x 31.5 in   

Stephen McKenna 
The Attributes of Painting, 1979
oil on canvas
60 x 80 cm / 23.6 x 31.5 in   

Inquire
Stephen McKenna 
The Artist’s Muse, 1969
oil on canvas
101 x 127 cm / 39.8 x 50 in   

Stephen McKenna 
The Artist’s Muse, 1969
oil on canvas
101 x 127 cm / 39.8 x 50 in   

Inquire
Clouds 2014

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

dining table with still life K1511

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

Birds chorus 2

Stephen McKenna
Birds Chorus 2, 2013
watercolour on paper
38.5 x 57.5 cm / 5.2 x 22.6 in paper size 

The Barrow Tow Path 2012 K1210

Stephen McKenna
The Barrow Tow Path, 2012
oil on canvas
100 x 150 cm / 39.4 x 59.1 in  
103 x 153 cm / 40.6 x 60.2 in framed  

Rainy Tree 2007 K1407

Stephen McKenna
Rainy Tree, 2007
oil on canvas
60 x 50 cm / 23.6 x 19.7 in  
62 x 52.3 x 4.9 cm / 24.4 x 20.6 x 1.9 in framed

 

Crack Willow 2003

Stephen McKenna 
Crack Willow, 2003
oil on canvas
120 x 180 cm / 47.2 x 70.9 in   

Stephen McKenna 
Angel, Venus & Mermaid, 2003
oil on canvas
160 x 120 cm / 63 x 47.2 in   

Stephen McKenna 
Angel, Venus & Mermaid, 2003
oil on canvas
160 x 120 cm / 63 x 47.2 in   

Stephen McKenna 
Sea with Jumping Figure, 2001
oil on canvas
50 x 65 cm / 19.7 x 25.6 in   
 

Stephen McKenna 
Sea with Jumping Figure, 2001
oil on canvas
50 x 65 cm / 19.7 x 25.6 in   
 

Stephen McKenna 
Head, 2000
oil on canvas
36 x 30 cm / 14.2 x 11.8 in   

 

Stephen McKenna 
Head, 2000
oil on canvas
36 x 30 cm / 14.2 x 11.8 in   

 

Narcissus, K9930

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

Stephen McKenna 
Cigar Smoker in Snow, 2003
oil on canvas
90 x 70 cm / 35.4 x 27.6 in   
 

Stephen McKenna 
Cigar Smoker in Snow, 2003
oil on canvas
90 x 70 cm / 35.4 x 27.6 in   
 

Stephen McKenna 
Small Gate at Terni, 1998
oil on canvas
40 x 50 cm / 15.7 x 19.7 in   
58 x 68 cm / 22.8 x 26.8 in framed  

Stephen McKenna 
Small Gate at Terni, 1998
oil on canvas
40 x 50 cm / 15.7 x 19.7 in   
58 x 68 cm / 22.8 x 26.8 in framed  

Stephen McKenna 
Inside The Hill, 1991
oil on canvas
150 x 200 cm / 59.1 x 78.7 in   

Stephen McKenna 
Inside The Hill, 1991
oil on canvas
150 x 200 cm / 59.1 x 78.7 in   

Stephen McKenna 
The Attributes of Painting, 1979
oil on canvas
60 x 80 cm / 23.6 x 31.5 in   

Stephen McKenna 
The Attributes of Painting, 1979
oil on canvas
60 x 80 cm / 23.6 x 31.5 in   

Stephen McKenna 
The Artist’s Muse, 1969
oil on canvas
101 x 127 cm / 39.8 x 50 in   

Stephen McKenna 
The Artist’s Muse, 1969
oil on canvas
101 x 127 cm / 39.8 x 50 in   

Exhibitions

Exhibitions Thumbnails
Stephen McKenna
A Painters Life: Stephen McKenna (1939 – 2017), 2019
VISUAL, Carlow, Ireland
Stephen McKenna
A Painters Life: Stephen McKenna (1939 – 2017), 2019
VISUAL, Carlow, Ireland
Stephen McKenna
A Painters Life: Stephen McKenna (1939 – 2017), 2019
VISUAL, Carlow, Ireland
Stephen McKenna
A Painters Life: Stephen McKenna (1939 – 2017), 2019
VISUAL, Carlow, Ireland
Stephen McKenna
A Painters Life: Stephen McKenna (1939 – 2017), 2019
VISUAL, Carlow, Ireland
Stephen McKenna
A Painters Life: Stephen McKenna (1939 – 2017), 2019
VISUAL, Carlow, Ireland
Stephen McKenna
A Painters Life: Stephen McKenna (1939 – 2017), 2019
VISUAL, Carlow, Ireland
Stephen McKenna
A Painters Life: Stephen McKenna (1939 – 2017), 2019
VISUAL, Carlow, Ireland

Stephen McKenna
A Painters Life: Stephen McKenna (1939 – 2017), 2019
VISUAL, Carlow, Ireland

Stephen McKenna
The air between things, Stephen McKenna & Isabel Nolan, 2019
China OCT Boxes Art Museum, Shunde District, Guangzhou, China
Stephen McKenna
The air between things, Stephen McKenna & Isabel Nolan, 2019
China OCT Boxes Art Museum, Shunde District, Guangzhou, China
Stephen McKenna
The air between things, Stephen McKenna & Isabel Nolan, 2019
China OCT Boxes Art Museum, Shunde District, Guangzhou, China
Stephen McKenna
The air between things, Stephen McKenna & Isabel Nolan, 2019
China OCT Boxes Art Museum, Shunde District, Guangzhou, China
Stephen McKenna
The air between things, Stephen McKenna & Isabel Nolan, 2019
China OCT Boxes Art Museum, Shunde District, Guangzhou, China
Stephen McKenna
The air between things, Stephen McKenna & Isabel Nolan, 2019
China OCT Boxes Art Museum, Shunde District, Guangzhou, China
Stephen McKenna
The air between things, Stephen McKenna & Isabel Nolan, 2019
China OCT Boxes Art Museum, Shunde District, Guangzhou, China

Stephen McKenna
The air between things, Stephen McKenna & Isabel Nolan, 2019
China OCT Boxes Art Museum, Shunde District, Guangzhou, China

Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK
Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK
Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK
Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK
Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK
Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK
Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK
Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK

Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK

Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, Ireland

Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, Ireland

Stephen McKenna
The Paradise [36], 2012
Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
Stephen McKenna
The Paradise [36], 2012
Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
Stephen McKenna
The Paradise [36], 2012
Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
Stephen McKenna
The Paradise [36], 2012
Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
Stephen McKenna
The Paradise [36], 2012
Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Ireland

Stephen McKenna
The Paradise [36], 2012
Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Ireland

Stephen McKenna
The gentlemen's toilets at Bahnhof Rolandseck, 1972

Photo: Axel Hausberg SEE HERE

Stephen McKenna
The gentlemen's toilets at Bahnhof Rolandseck, 1972

Photo: Axel Hausberg SEE HERE

Stephen McKenna
A Painters Life: Stephen McKenna (1939 – 2017), 2019
VISUAL, Carlow, Ireland

Stephen McKenna
A Painters Life: Stephen McKenna (1939 – 2017), 2019
VISUAL, Carlow, Ireland

Stephen McKenna
The air between things, Stephen McKenna & Isabel Nolan, 2019
China OCT Boxes Art Museum, Shunde District, Guangzhou, China

Stephen McKenna
The air between things, Stephen McKenna & Isabel Nolan, 2019
China OCT Boxes Art Museum, Shunde District, Guangzhou, China

Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK

Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK

Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, Ireland

Stephen McKenna
Perspectives of Europe 1980–2014, 2015
The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, Ireland

Stephen McKenna
The Paradise [36], 2012
Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Ireland

Stephen McKenna
The Paradise [36], 2012
Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Ireland

Stephen McKenna
The gentlemen's toilets at Bahnhof Rolandseck, 1972

Photo: Axel Hausberg SEE HERE

Stephen McKenna
The gentlemen's toilets at Bahnhof Rolandseck, 1972

Photo: Axel Hausberg SEE HERE