Nathalie Du Pasquier
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about the artists
b. 1939, London, UK - d. 2017, Carlow, Ireland
Assembling fragments of shape and colour, McKenna’s early abstract paintings adopt a vivid multi-chromatic palette and a dreamlike elasticity. As the decade progresses, the artist begins to introduce the human figure to these scenarios, using spatial illusion to bend linear time and elicit intense psychological drama. Moving from abstraction to figuration with ease, he layers windows within windows, rooms within rooms; suspending the figure in abstract geometric prisms, or splicing it into composite parts. Seldom seen since they were first exhibited, the paintings in the sixties have a vitality and sense of discovery that reverberates across half a century – and are as captivating now as they were upon completion.
At the onset of the sixties, McKenna was a student at the Slade School of Art, an environment that championed modernism and abstraction. In 1971, he would leave London for a decades-long exploration of continental Europe (Germany, Italy, and Belgium) where he would refine a distinct artistic vision fusing classicism with modernity. The paintings in the sixties reflect the ideas of the 1960s avant-garde, with its tendency towards free association, absorbing the legacy of Surrealism and the influence of European pop culture. This formative period of McKenna’s career is defined by a quest for expanded consciousness and his belief in the power of the imagination.
Stephen McKenna was born in London in 1939, and was living and working in County Carlow, Ireland at the time of his death in 2017. Major solo exhibitions include Stadtische Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf; Hans und Sophie Teuber Arp Foundation, Bonn; the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; the ICA, London; Modern Art Oxford; Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; The Hugh Lane, the Douglas Hyde Gallery, the RHA and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. McKenna was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1986, and participated in historic exhibitions including Documenta 7, Kassel; Classical Spirit, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Falls the Shadow, Hayward Gallery, London; Avant Garde of the 80s, Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art and Dreams & Traditions, at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC
Nathalie Du Pasquier
b. 1957, Bordeaux, France
Influenced by the language of classicism and informed by the history of Italian art, Du Pasquier’s paintings splice together simplified still life compositions, architectural plans, industrial drawings, and playful fragments of text with boldly simplified blocks of colour. For Twice in Dublin, Du Pasquier also refers back to her own archive and accumulated experience—in particular, her time spent regularly visiting Ireland in the 2000s. Assembling elements of her work from that era alongside more recent imagery, the artist has produced a new body of work that “like everything in life, has roots and connections with previous times”.
Born in Bordeaux, France, Nathalie Du Pasquier first discovered pattern and texture in West Africa in the 1970s, and has lived in Milan since 1979. A founding member of the Memphis design group, she designed textiles, carpets, plastic laminates, furniture and objects before dedicating herself to painting in 1987. Her work has been exhibited at MACRO, Rome; MRAC, Sérignan; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Camden Arts Centre, London; Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; ICA, Philadelphia; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna and, most recently, Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye in France.
b. 1979, Dublin, Ireland
Working primarily with sculpture and occasionally painting, Aleana Egan engenders psychological states and memories through enigmatic arrangements of objects and forms. Her sculptural works appear restrained yet laden with subtle references to the built environment using materials such as plaster, cardboard, matte paint and various fabrics. A meandering, sensuous line and sense of fluidity is carried from her sculptures into her painting, giving form to a sense of flux, openness and mutability. Egan’s practice is shaped by her deep engagement with works of literature and cinema: never opting for direct representation, she uses this source material as an entryway, absorbing the moods and tones it evokes. Her forms and shapes act as traces or shifting responses, tentative articulations of remembered places or everyday moments.
Aleana Egan has exhibited at Sculpture Centre, New York; Kunsthalle Basel; Kunsthalle zu Kiel; Landesmuseum Münster; The Drawing Room and Jerwood Space, London; Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge; Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh; Leeds Art Gallery; the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Temple Bar Gallery and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. She has also participated in the Berlin Biennale. Most recently, she has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Void Gallery, Derry (2022); Künstlerhaus Bremen (2021) and NICC Vitrine Brussels (2020).
b. 1985, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
‘Orkish Palisade NPC’ depicts a figure carrying a spear, a pair of scissors and two golden letters bound by a red rope cut from the bottom right corner of the composition. Their torso is a knot of twisted palisade security fencing; their face wears a grotesque orkish grin framed by a bright red beard and masked by the nose and eye sockets of another face.
Similarly, ‘Elden Knotweed NPC’ stands in the foreground, holding a leaf, a spear, a hunting horn and a snake. Their clothes are anachronistic - a hi-vis jacket and nike baseball cap are paired with a set of ornately forged greaves, leather sandals and a doublet. A pair of eyes seem to peer through from behind the torn surface of the paper, their position lined up perfectly with the face their hands have ripped open.
These works continue Keogh’s NPC series; a gamut of strange creatures invading and tearing apart the rarefied world depicted in the 16thC ‘Hunt for the Unicorn’ Tapestries housed in the MET Cloisters. Short for 'non-playable character' NPCs are possible friends, foes or entities which further the narrative of a gameword. Playing with the indeterminacy of the figure of the NPC, Keogh’s characters are Frankensteined together from a wide array of sources. Elements are plucked from contemporary Fantasy mass media like Lord of the Rings or the Dark Souls game series and combined with images of past work taken or camera phone photos. The figures are often holding scissors or craft knives, evidence of having cut and pasted themselves into existence as incongruous combinations of past and present, real and fictional, phantasy and fantasy.
Sam Keogh’s work has been exhibited at the Pompidou Centre, Paris; Tate Modern, London; GrazMuseum, Graz; Dortmunder Kunstverein; the Public School, New York; Eli & Edythe Broad Museum, Michigan; Extra City Kunsthal, Antwerp; Douglas Hyde Gallery and The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. His most recent solo exhibitions include CCA Goldsmiths, London (2021) and Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris (2020). Keogh has participated in biennial exhibitions including the Lyon Biennale, steirischer herbst, EVA International and Glasgow International.
b. 1964, Aylesbury, England
One of the most important figures in international contemporary art, Liam Gillick works across diverse forms, including sculpture and installation. A theorist, curator and educator as well as an artist, his wider body of work includes published essays and texts, lectures, curatorial and collaborative projects, all of which inform (and are informed by) his art practice. Gillick’s line of enquiry is into conditions of production, including how it continues to operate in a post-industrial landscape: questions of economy, labour and social organisation are ongoing preoccupations. He is perhaps best-known for producing sculptural objects – platforms, screens, models, benches, prototypes, signage, or structural supports made from sleek modular Plexiglas and aluminium forms in standardised colours from the RAL system. These seductive materials speak the language of renovation and development: originally refined by the military, they’ve been widely used in corporate interiors since the 1990s, a decade in which post-industrial societies saw a shift from the collective to the individualist and privatised. Drawing upon engineering and industrial design as well as the legacy of hard-edged minimalism, these abstract quasi-architectural forms offer a critique of neo-liberal or corporate aesthetics, automation and endless (re)development. Focusing on secondary or incomplete forms such as screens and platforms, Gillick pinpoints structures which have a potential to destabilise the power of architecture and the architecture of power, creating generative spaces for discussion or the development of ideas.
Liam Gillick has had solo exhibitions in many of the world’s leading museums, including Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Kunsthalle Zürich; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Witte de With, Rotterdam; Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn; MAGASIN, Grenoble; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Tate Britain, London and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. Recent solo exhibitions include The National Gallery of Canada (2022); Gwangju Museum of Art, Korea; Sankt Peter, Cologne (both 2021); Madre Museum, Naples; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; Kunsthaus Zürich; Neues Museum Nürnberg; Potter Museum, Melbourne (all 2019). Gillick has participated in major international exhibitions including Okayama Art Summit, Japan and the Venice, Shanghai, Istanbul and Yinchuan biennales.
b.1960, Cardiff, Wales.
Generally small in scale, Merlin James's works depict diverse subject matter including vernacular architecture, riverside views, post-industrial landscapes, empty interiors, mysterious figures and scenes of sexual intimacy. Works on canvas might be collaged with tufts of hair or sawdust, distressed, pierced, cropped or heavily overpainted, while his frame paintings on gauzy, sheer material treat the structure of the picture frame and stretcher bar as an integral part of the work. Also an erudite and thoughtful critic, James has a deep engagement with the history of art and this knowledge shapes and informs his practice. His works refine and renew many of painting’s most time-honoured concerns – genre and narrative, pictorial space and expressive gesture, the emotive resonance of colour and texture.
Merlin James has been the subject of solo exhibitions at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Kunstverein Freiberg, Germany; Parasol Unit, London; New York Studio School; Vitamin Arte Contemporanea, Turin; Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh; the CCA, Glasgow; the National Museum of Wales; Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin; OCT Boxes Art Museum, Shunde and OCT Art & Design Gallery, Shenzhen. Recently, he has been included in major painting surveys including Mixing It Up: Painting Today, Hayward Gallery, London (2021) and Slow Painting, touring from Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds (2019) to The Levinsky Gallery, Plymouth (2020). In 2007, James represented Wales at the 52nd Venice Biennale.
b. 1969, Hunan, China
Zhou Li creates paintings, sculptures, installations and public art using mixed media, including oil paint, washes of ink, charcoal and cotton cloth. Her lyrical abstract paintings capture her acute sensory observations of the world: lightness and shadow, solidity and dissolution, the sense of being. Building upon the history of European painting and the central tenets of traditional Chinese art, Zhou Li harnesses both traditions to develop a distinct painterly language. Her paintings looks towards nature as a starting point, particularly the mountainous terrains of Southern China, but are imbued with a sense of much more: every brush stroke on the canvas is driven by her persistent query and pursuit of being.
Zhou Li was born in 1969 in Hunan and lives and works in Shenzhen. Having lived in Paris from 1995, Zhou returned to China in 2003, where she has been the subject of critically-acclaimed museum shows including the Yuz Museum, Shanghai, the Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou and Pingshan Art Museum, Shenzhen. Zhou Li has also exhibited at Château La Coste, France; White Cube, London; and as part of the 56th Venice Biennale.