Sunday Painter | Ian McKeever

This week, the English artist Ian McKeever is featured in our weekly #SundayPainter series.  Huge, abstract paintings often inspired by natural forms, the artist once said:

“Light in a painting intrigues me enormously: how to imbue a painting with light so that one is not actually depicting it, but somehow its
quality is implicitly within the painting— […] emanating from it.”


English painter and printmaker. Self-taught as an artist, he began to paint in 1969. Influenced by land art and especially by the writings of Robert Smithson, he first exhibited installations of large paintings that envelop the viewer, and that incorporate material taken from the
wild. In the mid 1970s he also realised a number of projects in the
countryside around London. In the late 1970s he changed direction when
he began to make more gestural abstract paintings; these were still the result of research on site, in the form of drawings and photographs (which were often attached to canvas to form a ground for the paint), but they marked a decisive move towards more subjective and Romantic interests. Typically at this time he worked with diptych formats, pairing a large photographic image with a painted surface. Beside the Bramble Ditch
(1983; Preston, Harris Mus. & A.G.) is typical of his violent,
choppy and gestural abstraction of the early 1980s, the strong contrast
of white against darker colours suggesting a pattern which would
continue over the next two decades. In the early 1990s he evolved a
softer style of billowing veils and dramatic spatial effects. Hartgrove Painting No. 2
(1992–3; see 1994 exh. cat., p. 13), a large black and white canvas
from a series made at his rural Dorset home, exemplifies McKeever’s use
of grid structures in this period, and further demonstrates his interest
in colour contrasts.

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