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William McKeown × Michael Dempsey

I first met William McKeown while sharing a studio at TBG&S. He was always reaching for the miraculous. We first worked together when I curated an exhibition for Galway Arts Centre in 2006 entitled 'Rooms for Waiting’. The theme of the act of waiting focused the mind in order to consider the nature of time and how we form habits to structure our lives – are we only now beginning to catch up with his insights? Referencing this exhibition McKeown continued his theme at the Hugh Lane Gallery in 2011 as part of the series of exhibitions that centred on James George Frazer's book of anthropology 'The Golden Bough' (1890). McKeown responded to Book IV entitled 'Between Heaven and Earth ' referencing stories of sacred, noble or taboo persons who are forbidden to walk on or to touch the ground, to see the sun, or to have its light fall upon them. McKeown was concurrently working on a series of paintings entitled Tomorrow, now in the IMMA collection^, where his interest was focused on the space between each art work. For the Golden Bough he extended this liminal space to his entire installation, creating a seductive darkened antechamber within the curiously oval shaped gallery. Beckoning the emerging light that came from the adjacent sculpture gallery, McKeown waited to greet the morning sun.

Michael Dempsey is Head of Exhibitions at Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane

^William McKeown, Tomorrow, 2011, Oil on linen (Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Donation, 2011) is currently on display in the exhibition: Ghosts From the Recent Past, West Wing, IMMA, 01/09/2020–01/03/2021
BOOKING REQUIRED, see IMMA website for details

William McKeown

Exhibition views of The Waiting Room, 2011
The Golden Bough: William McKeown

Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane

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William McKeown (1962-2011) was born in Tyrone, and was living and working in Edinburgh at the time of his death in 2011. His exhibitions include: Dayroom, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, USA, (Solo, 2016); The Untold Want, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (Solo, 2015); The Waiting Room, Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane (Solo, 2011); A Certain Distance, Endless Light, with Félix González-Torres, Middlesbrough Museum of Modern Art, UK, (2010); Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, (Solo, 2004, 2001). In 2005, McKeown represented Northern Ireland in the 51st Venice Biennale. His work is represented in the collections of Dallas Museum of Art; Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane; National Gallery of Ireland; Irish Museum of Modern Art.