By: Noel McKenna
Noel McKenna’s paintings do a lot with a little. The senior Australian artist’s suburban interiors, solitary male inhabitants, and the various domesticated animals that keep them company, fit adroitly into the wider motif of the poetics of the banal. But it’s via his work’s quiet humour, tenderness and workaday melancholy that McKenna has fashioned such a unique, likeable and subtly emotive visual language. Put simply, his paintings just are.
Spanning various decades, the works that populate End Street – McKenna’s first book for Perimeter Editions – speak in the same humble, meandering cadence as the best of his output. Unimposing in their scale and spare in their information, these paintings, drawings, painted ceramic tiles and sculptures offer vantages on a life lived alone (bar the cat or the dog). Here, our silent protagonist smokes a pipe while reading his book, and subsists on a diet of sausages, eggs, toast and tea. Out the window, the night is still and clear, and from time to time a crescent moon gently casts its cool light.
Born in Brisbane in 1956, Noel McKenna studied architecture at Queensland University in 1974 and 1975. He continued his education at Brisbane College of Art from 1976–78 and then at Alexander Mackie College, Sydney in 1981. Since then he has exhibited extensively in Australia and internationally, holding solo exhibitions in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Hobart, as well as the United States, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Ireland and New Zealand. Recent exhibitions include Noel McKenna: Landscape – Mapped at Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2017, and Cats that I Have Known at The Watermill Center, New York, 2016. His work is held in all major state and regional galleries, and important public and corporate collections throughout Australia and internationally. McKenna currently lives and works in Sydney.
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