The Royal Academy of Art

The new artist laboratories at the Royal Academy are an excellent means of understanding art and architecture, and critique for the artists of the RA and a delight for the public. The first of these is Ian McKeever and the laboratory seems to bring together two unlikely series of his works: Hartgrove Paintings from 1992 to1994 and an ongoing series of black and white photographs made since 2007. In this sense, the work tries to examine its opponent, but finds more similarity than opposition as the paintings produced during McKeever’s stay in Hartgrove, Dorset echo in his recent photographs, reimagining light in the Abstract sense whilst appearing haunting.

McKeever’s change of scenery may be noticed in his paintings and photographs, as the expansive lands of Hartgrove compared to the congested London are ghostly and transparent like veils. Barnett Newman (1905-1970) is McKeever’s best influence on his Hartgrove paintings with the context of line against background, as is the classical Romanticism that fuels the strokes of McKeever’s paintings. However, although neither as naïve nor rich as Mondrian, the influence is definitely within those lines and shapes created by paint of photography which is also McKeever’s means to not use art in visually representing the pains, lusts and vagaries that occupy this worldspace. Use of black and white colour has also become a somewhat spiritual context to McKeever’s Hartgrove Paintings as well as his photographs, becoming ever more Abstract and rewriting art history to be this grey matter. Unlike Dark Matter, found within the deepest recesses of the planet, McKeever’s mind might be where to find the dark subjectivity that drives these pieces into a visual representation of cultural history.