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.