Memory unfolds discovery and thus continuity. Like the scholarly Chinese painters and calligraphers, to whom she was exposed while living in Beijing in 2007, Whitney McVeigh inspires a special form of aesthetic response, and even of moral elevation, by recapturing and collecting moments of the past, safe from the fingertips of the future and the depredations of technology.
Her newest body of work New Ink Paintings presents ink and acrylic paintings on paper and richly textured monotypes, ranging from pure gestural abstraction to eloquent forms that await interpretation. Common to all is a persistent and relevant dialogue between abstraction and oblique references to the tangible world.
Whitney McVeigh challenges expectations and cultural norms in diverse ways. She is equally comfortable with choreographing an installation of found objects, for example her 2015 exhibition in Kettle’s Yard and her participation in the 55th
Venice Biennale, as directing film or continuing her long exploration of ink paintings on paper. Her work runs against much of contemporary cultural orthodoxy in producing for the viewer a visual experience that is unostentatious, poetic, evocative and psychologically probing.
While there is a pictorial sympathy between Asian brush painting and her ink works, McVeigh’s cultural roots are embedded in western art history. She has absorbed a rich mixture of influences, from the “Prodigal Son” drawings of Daumier through to André Breton’s 1920’s experiments in automatic writing, the haunting intimacies of Joseph Cornell’s boxes and the weighty abstractions and writings of Robert Motherwell. Her work is also marked by a sophisticated literary quality, shaped by immersion in the work of artists’ texts, world literature and particularly the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, Jorge Luis Borges and Walt Whitman, all of which have gradually permeated her aesthetic personality, some of which she refers to in the works themselves.
New Ink Paintings runs from 15 October 2015 – 20 November 2015 at Michael Goedhuis Gallery
61 Cadogan Square