Carlow

View of “Stephen McKenna,” 2019.

View of “Stephen McKenna,” 2019.

Stephen McKenna

VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art

A Painter’s Life: Stephen McKenna (1939–2017)” is an illuminating posthumous tribute to an enlightened, enthusiastic internationalist, a restlessly cosmopolitan painter whose art was often characterized by restful, rational, neoclassical composure. Stephen McKenna was born in England—to a Northern Irish father and a Scottish mother—but the family spent considerable time abroad: living, variously, in Norway, Hong Kong, and Austria. After studying painting at London’s Slade School of Fine Art in the 1960s—which led him to experiment, for a while, with abstraction—he moved to Germany, where he felt freer to pursue a representational style. Later, he lived in Belgium, then in Italy, absorbing influences from both northern and southern European art, before settling in Ireland during the ’90s. There, he became a revered and influential presence. An interviewer once asked if McKenna saw himself

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