Diarmuid Kelley (b.1972), “Conference Pears Against a Pink Napkin,” 2018, oil on canvas, 9 7/8 x 14 inches (25 x 35.5 cm)
Diarmuid Kelley (b.1972), “Conference Pears Against a Pink Napkin,” 2018, oil on canvas, 9 7/8 x 14 inches (25 x 35.5 cm)

Offer Waterman Gallery (London) recently announced the debut New York exhibition of paintings by Diarmuid Kelley, November 7–30, 2019. The exhibition, “Recent Paintings,” will feature more than 20 of the artists’ signature large-scale portraits and still lifes, taking over Stellan Holm at 1018 Madison Avenue. “Recent Paintings” marks the first solo exhibition by the acclaimed British artist outside of London and the gallery’s first independent presentation in New York.

“I’m thrilled to present Kelley’s work to New York,” states gallerist Offer Waterman. “There is a strong market for figurative painting, and Kelley’s recent paintings have resonated with collectors. This will be a prime opportunity for his New York audience to discover the works in person for the first time.”

Diarmuid Kelley, “Garden Rose,” 2019, oil on linen, 14 x 12 1/8 in. (35.5 x 30.5 cm)
Diarmuid Kelley, “Garden Rose,” 2019, oil on linen, 14 x 12 1/8 in. (35.5 x 30.5 cm)

“In my recent works, I’ve been experimenting with different color combinations, which I’m excited to debut in New York,” states Diarmuid Kelley. “Central to my work is that I make images that are incomplete – fragments of an interior, ones that may include a sitter, or a figure, but only as part of an overall scheme; a collage of different patterns, textures, and colors.”

Celebrated for an innovative studio practice and figurative painting that references Renaissance masters, contemporary photography, and cinematic mise-en-scene, Kelley is a master of painting and capturing the expression of light. The more than 20 works in “Recent Paintings” showcase Kelley’s singular process and prowess for figurative painting and traditional disciplines, which made him a standout in his generation of British artists.

Working from his rooftop London studio, Kelley uses a custom-built box with a window to frame his sitters and heighten the play of darkness and light. Kelley begins his painting process by creating a carefully orchestrated “stage” for his subjects to inhabit. With utmost attention to detail, including color, texture, and pattern, a mise-en-scene is carefully crafted to become a third character in his work. In Kelley’s hands, humble and ephemeral objects, from fruit to autumn leaves, inhabit a silent but eloquent space in time and are portrayed with a rigorous observation of color and form.

Diarmuid Kelley, “Edith Piaf (said it better than me),” 2019, oil on linen, 52 x 59 7/8 in. (132 x 152 cm)
Diarmuid Kelley, “Edith Piaf (said it better than me),” 2019, oil on linen, 52 x 59 7/8 in. (132 x 152 cm)

His subjects range from public figures, including an official portrait commission of HRH the Duchess of Cornwall and Sir Richard Thompson for the Royal College of Physicians, to the personal, with many of his friends sitting for the larger works that can take many months to complete.

Diarmuid Kelley – In the Studio from Raindown on Vimeo.

Kelley came to prominence at the age of 23, as the youngest-ever recipient of Britain’s prestigious NatWest Art Prize in 1995. Coming of age in the YBA generation, Kelley was distinguished for his rigorously traditional practice working from live models and his dedication to figurative painting. Offer Waterman has represented Kelley since 1998, and this will be his ninth solo exhibition with the gallery.

“Recent Paintings” will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring an interview with professor of fine art Liz Rideal of the University College, London’s Slade School of Fine Art. The exhibition will be on view at Stellan Holm, 1018 Madison Avenue, November 7–30, 2019, Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6.p.m.


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