The Molesworth Gallery


White satin in blue light ~ oil on linen ~ 130 x 140 cm


Allyson Keehan

Lookie Likie, Mimetic Protagonist

March 24th 7th - April 20th


On first viewing, Allyson Keehan's meticulously rendered trompe l’oeil paintings of drapery seem rooted in the realist genre. A closer examination, however, reveals the importance of the process of making the paintings. This process is hugely impacted by the studio space, in particular the distinctive manipulation and modulations of light in the set-up of the subject matter for each image.

Keehan's two major concerns in the work are space and light. She is interested in how changing one element of a painting’s set-up can affect a whole body of work, and also the surrounding environment. In her most recent work, she has used blue and white artificial light to distort the subject and focus the attention of the viewer on the complex interaction of colour, light and form that regulates our visual interface with the world around us. The painting White satin in blue light, for example, compels us to question the colours we perceive in the optical receptors of our brain. "White is white," she is telling us, but only in the very delicately-balanced colour-spectrum of daylight.

Purple satin in blue light~ oil on linen ~ 150 x 130 cm


Keehan is also drawing the viewer’s eye to geometric shapes in the fabric, thereby accentuating the abstract quality in the paintings. Occasionally, a singular object is integrated to distrupt the uniform landscape, allowing textures and solid forms to be juxtaposed with the subdued flow of the drapery. This intricate compositional interplay shapes the visual dialogue between the various elements of the painting, and between the painting and its audience.

Keehan graduated from the Byam Shaw School of Art (University of the Arts London) in 2004 with a Masters in Fine Art, after completing a BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art Painting in 2002 at the Limerick School of Art and Design. She has exhibited in Berlin, in London (at the Purdy Hicks Gallery) and extensively throughout Ireland. She was an invited artist at the 2010 RHA Annual Exhibition and recently undertook a residency in Takt Berlin. She now lives and works in Dublin.


Red satin in blue light~ oil on linen ~ 150 x 130 cm


Following is an excerpt from a review of the show in The Irish Times:

"The main subject of Allyson Keehan’s paintings is fabric. Each work features an expanse of drapery, usually satin, of a single colour, interrupted only by incidental folds and creases. Take a glance at one of her works and your eye is drawn back again and again. You begin to appreciate that light, shade and time are just as significant as subject matter. Time because the painterly surfaces that Keehan makes are extraordinarily meticulous and detailed, built up slowly over a prolonged period. A light source to one side precisely defines the intricacies of the satin’s texture and folds. This painstaking quality, and her exceptional technical ability, imbues the works with a feeling of calm."

Aidan Dunne, The Irish Times, March 25th, 2011


Breda's fur ~ oil on linen ~ 56 x 61 cm



Navy satin in blue light ~ oil on linen ~ 56 x 61 cm



White satin with red dot ~ oil on linen ~ 25 x 30 cm




White satin with vertical fold~ oil on linen ~ 30 x 25 cm



« Return to Exhibitions Home      Back to Top