Ian McKeever (artist)
McKeever studied English Literature and began working as an artist in 1968. In 1970 he took his first studio at SPACE, St. Katherine's dock, London, an artists' initiative set up by Bridget Riley and Peter Sedgley. His first group exhibition was held in West Berlin in 1971, and this was soon followed by his first solo exhibition at Cardiff Arts Centre. He was awarded the Arts Council Bursary in 1973 and in the same year held his first London solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). In 1989 he was awarded the DAAD scholarship in Berlin. This was followed in 1990 by a major retrospective exhibition of his work at the Whitechapel Gallery, London. In 2003 he was elected a Royal Academician.
McKeever's early landscape photographic/drawing works such as Field Series (19780 and Waterfalls (1979) were influenced by the writings of Robert Smithson, followed by the over-painted landscape photographs in such groups as Lapland Paintings (1985–1986) and History of Rocks (1986–1988) where the painterly gesture comes to the fore. And finally, beginning with the Door Paintings (1990–1994), McKeever's works became more concerned with pure painting hovering between abstraction and a residual sense of figuration. This phase continues to this day in such groups of paintings as Temple Paintings (2004–2006) and Twelve-Standing (2009–2012) with an increased paring down of discernible subject matter in the work and an emphasis on the quality of light.
"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."
In 2006 McKeever returned to working with photographs, however they are now kept independent of his painted works.
McKeever has written numerous texts and essays on art, including personal reflections on painting and on other painters' works. His 1982 manifesto titled Black and White...Or how to paint with a hammer (published by Matt's Gallery, London), expounded his internal conflict between the subjective nature of painting and the more conceptual parameters his work had adhered to so far. In 2005, his lectures at Cambridge University and the University of Brighton were published as three essays in the book In Praise of Painting, covering topics such as the presence and absence of light in Western painting. Writings on other artists include Thoughts on Emil Nolde in 1996; Absolute Light, an essay on Russian icons for the British Museum magazine in 2004; and Thinking about Georgia O'Keeffe for the Louisiana Revy, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark.
- 'Inner Vision, Ian McKeever in conversation with Eleanor Mills', RA Magazine, Autumn 2009, p.83
- Ian McKeever: Paintings. With essays by Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton, Michael Tucker, Catherine Lampert. Surrey: Lund Humphries, 2009. ISBN 978-1-84822-037-9
- McKeever: Hartgrove, Paintings and Photographs. With contributions from Heinz Liesbrock, Richard Deacon and Ian McKeever. Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2012. ISBN 978-3-86335-250-9
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