The Marianne North Paintings
20 October – 10 December 1995
The work, The Marianne North Paintings, consists of three large paintings, (two 265 x 703 cm and one 265 x 527 cm), which occupy the three walls of Matt’s Gallery. The paintings take as their starting point the work of the 19th century botanical painter and explorer Marianne North (1830-1890) who travelled extensively to remote parts of the world making botanical paintings in situ of the indigenous flora. 832 of her paintings are permanently housed in a gallery commissioned and installed by North herself at Kew Gardens.
The three Marianne North Paintings are both a homage to the tradition of 19th century women explorers and a reflection on the artist’s own history of travelling to such places as Siberia, New Guinea, Tasmania and Greenland. Monumental in scale the paintings continue McKeever’s concerns with veiling and the reduction of the image in which the experience of time becomes an integral part of the subject matter. Thus reduced we are left with a fragile suggestion of ghosting imagery which may equally refer to the intimacy of the body or larger more estranged structures outside of it. Neither overtly figurative nor formal abstractions the paintings aspire to a more primary sense of the self and what is other.
Running parallel with the exhibition is an artist's book containing photographs and short texts taken from the artist’s photo library and travel journals of the last ten years. In which the artist speaks about the difficult visual territory of what is present in a painting but not stated; of the gap between the painting and its image.
This is Ian McKeever’s second exhibition at Matt’s Gallery. His first, Black and White ... or how to paint with a hammer in 1982 was also accompanied by a publication, the first in what now constitutes a series of three polemical discussions on the nature of painting.