We are delighted to announce a new exhibition of paintings by Stephen McKenna, entitled ‘Contrasts and Complementaries’. McKenna has achieved international prominence through his sophisticated exploration of the enduring value of the time-honoured genres of still life, landscape and seascape. It will be his 10th exhibition at the Kerlin since it opened in 1988.
The exhibition will comprise of a number of large scale paintings which are based on studies made in the port cities of Naples, Porto and Lisbon. The two words of the exhibition’s title refer not only to the subjects but also the procedures of painting them. The water of a port complements the land of the bay or river banks which enclose it. The form of a city is determined by the geography of its site, just as the natural surroundings are adapted to the exigencies of the human activity in it. The cities are seen at dawn and dusk, by day and by night, in fog and in sunlight. But the paintings are more than topographical images. They are abstractions as well as observations, and their construction is based on the contrast of vertical and horizontal space, using perspectival grids which support contrasting or closely similar tones, and the complementary pairs of colours – yellow and violet, red and green, blue and orange.
Born in London in 1939, McKenna studied at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1959 to 1964. After 1973 he lived between Ireland, England, Germany, Belgium and Italy, and since 2000 solely in Ireland. He curated the "Pursuit of Painting" exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 1997. A survey of his paintings from the nineties took place at the Hans und Sophie Tauber Arp Foundation, Germany in 2000 and a selection of work from 1969 to 2004 at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin in 2005. Other solo exhibitions include Museum of Modern Art Oxford (1983), Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (1984), Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (1986), Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (1993), Ca di Fra, Milan (1999), Mestna Galerija, Ljubljiana (1997), Orchard Gallery, Derry (1996, 88, 81) and Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2003). His paintings have appeared in numerous group exhibitions in Ireland, Europe and the USA, including Documenta 7, Kassel (1982), 'The Hard Won Image', Tate Gallery, London (1984), TheTurner Prize Exhibition (1986), McKenna/Picabia, Galerie des Beaux Arts, Bruxelles (1992).