Noel McKenna Home, Northland, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 160 x 160cm
'a traveller, a gentleman on several occasions'
In the past, Noel McKenna has cast himself as a traveller - first, a pedestrian, more recently a cyclist; but also, lately, a surfer, albeit on the internet. He travels the country on-line, trawling for real estate, clicking icons on 'homes 4 sale n.z' and other sites, then enlarging these miniatures onto canvases of a size you would associate with 'history painting' or latter day abstraction. Accordingly, these inherently non-eventful vistas find themselves, like the best real estate, 'going up in the world'.
Along the way, they acquire an eloquence and allure the team at 'homes 4 sale' could only dream of. McKenna trails his little brush over every square inch of these large canvases. Against the odds, the stripped down interiors and blank frontages, in their painterly incarnation, acquire liveability and, to borrow another term from the estate agent's lexicon, 'character'.
Commensurate with McKenna's frequent traveller status, his finely drawn, almost quivering lines bring to mind John Locke's Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), in which the art of drawing is declared 'a thing very useful to a gentleman on several occasions, but especially if he travel... How many buildings may a man see, how many machines and habits meet with, the ideas whereof would be easily retained and communicated, by a little skill in drawing...'
From a series of mini-essays by Gregory O'Brien.
The complete series of essays is published in the exhibition catalogue ($11 plus postage and handling), or can be read on our website.
Please contact the gallery for a list of works or to arrange a private viewing prior to the exhibition.
We are delighted that Noel McKenna will be joining us in Melbourne for the opening.