William McKeown, Chance Encounters II
LOEWE Miami Design District
28 November 2016 – 31 March 2017
For its second project at the LOEWE Miami Design District store, LOEWE FOUNDATION is proud to present an exhibition bringing together the work of Irish artist William McKeown (1962-2011) and British potter John Ward (b. 1938). While working in different creative elds these artists both share fundamental beliefs in craftsmanship, creating works that draw our attention to the qualities of light and colour, and the rich materiality of the natural world.
William McKeown is known for his quiet yet powerful oil paintings, watercolours and drawings in which the elusive subjects of time, place or memory are distilled into planes of colour. McKeown was born in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland and was originally trained in textiles before becoming an artist, a background that remained fundamental to his paintings, both in the visible presence of the unprimed linen canvas in his paintings’ surfaces, and in the slow and meticulous layering of washes of colour which lend them an astounding depth. Finding kinship with the world of the great American painters Morris Louis or Agnes Martin, McKeown’s paintings have an otherworldly, almost spiritual quality, yet one that is simultaneously grounded in the experiences of the world around him - childhood memories of the places where he grew up or the light at a certain time of day.
I don’t see them as an abstraction of anything. I actually see them as a representation of particular skies and moments that are inside. It’s that moment when you lose a sense of your own containment, in order to absorb or be absorbed by a particular place or experience. William McKeown
The LOEWE Miami Design District store houses an 18th-century granary building which Anderson had transported from Portugal and installed permanently in the space. Made from stone and wood, its presence embodies LOEWE’s celebration of both modernity and history. Following the presentation of vessels by Lucie Rie on the building in 2015, this year Anderson has selected over 40 vessels by John Ward, one of the greatest living British potters, to occupy this dramatic space. Ward’s pots are hand-built from attened lengths of clay which he manipulates throughout the drying process to create unconventional shapes and volumes. Their characteristically matt surfaces are achieved by burnishing their surfaces with a pebble, tying Ward’s pots directly to the natural world. A pre-historic quality in Ward’s work derives from his interest in ancient ceramics from China, Egypt and Persia, married with in uences taken directly from his home by the sea in Pembrokeshire, Wales, with formal echoes of the ‘movement of water and waves or the dips and folds of the strata revealed in cliff faces.’
Ward has described a desire to ‘make pots... which can interact with the environment in interesting ways; to try and express a balance between these dynamic qualities and a sense of stillness or containment’, a sentiment that echoes McKeown’s own interest in exploring in his work the ‘relationship between containment and freedom’. Brought into dialogue, McKeown’s paintings and Ward’s pots stage a conversation about the ways in which we perceive and frame the world around us.
There is something compelling about the making of pots, regardless of function, which keeps me within the particular sphere; they are the focus of some many interests and associations. John Ward