Stunning McKeown painting stars in Belfast exhibition
A painting by William McKeown, acquired by Ulster Museum with Art Fund support, stars in a new exhibition exploring nature in the work of artists from Ireland and abroad.
Painted in 2008, Untitled is a rare and powerful large-scale abstract painting from McKeown's strongest period. Once a student at the University of Ulster in Belfast, McKeown was fascinated by nature's intangible qualities: the play of light through the sky and air, and particularly of daylight in the morning hours.
Untitled is McKeown's first work to enter the Ulster Museum collection, and his first work supported by the Art Fund. Built up from thin washes of paint to give the surface of the work a powerful sense of depth, the large format of the work gives the viewer the sense of looking through a window at an immense sky.
Untitled is one of the centrepieces of New Art, New Nature, the Ulster Museum's latest exhibition, which showcases how artists have responded to the beauty and energy of the natural world over the last 70 years. The oil painting will be on display alongside Waiting for the Corncrake, a group of 30 small-scale works on paper by McKeown, which was given to the Ulster Museum by the William McKeown Foundation following the acquisition of Untitled. McKeown's works are shown among pieces by world-renowned artists including Henri Matisse, William Scott and Willie Doherty.
Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: 'This is the first time that the Art Fund has supported a William McKeown acquisition, and we were struck by the sheer physical presence of his painting, which we can see will have great impact once on public display.
'McKeown’s time in Ulster played an important role in his development as an artist, so we’re glad to support the Ulster Museum in acquiring his work for the first time.'
New Art New Nature, Irish and International Art 1945–2014, is at Ulster Museum till 28 June 2015.