Magic lurks amongst the shadows, 2010  
ROKEBY presents a new body of work by Simon Keenleyside.

Working within the heroic tradition of British landscape painting, Simon Keenleyside continues to explore the familiar surroundings of Essex, where he grew up and where he continues to live to this day.

Depicting these places with an ability that discloses the mystery and ambiguity surrounding them, Keenleyside not only evokes physical places, but also mental states and the desires and anxieties that accompany him during his trips.

Keenleyside has spent the last three years returning to two specific locations; the backwaters and tributaries of the Thames and small woodlands that he discovered and explored as a child. Banal and sometimes rundown, these are not picture perfect landscapes that one is naturally drawn to, however the artist repeatedly returns to the same sites. One could understand this approach as a mediation on the changing environment, each work and each repetition highlighting the shifts in the landscapes. But rather than an interest in pure landscape, the artist endures repeated trips to his selected sites not to simply call attention to variation within sameness, but to investigate an ontological understanding of place. Repetition invokes experience and memory and KeenleysideĆ­s repeated scenes engage time whilst simultaneously setting up reverberations of memory and suggesting the impossibility of their full retrieval as well as the limitations of painting.
 
The selected places suggest associations that the artist brings to his chosen environs. As such the subjective experiences and responses to the sites are central to the artists definition of, and framing of, the landscape. Keenleyside states that to this day, he feels a sense of anxiety when visiting these familiar sites which he is none-the-less drawn to. For the artist these are sites of contest and conquest.

Nature is often depicted as otherworldy, suffused in ultraviolet hues and presented without perspectival recession or with an exaggerated frame of reference that imply an overwhelming experience for both artist and viewer. They inevitably produce a sense of unease and tension but are at the same time mystical and bewildering landscapes. Places that are littered with discarded industrial waste from surrounding industries, the less than spectacular Essex landscapes selected by Keenleyside present an everyday reality seen through the eyes of an ongoing observer exploring his surroundings in attempt to place himself within its history.

Simon Keenleyside graduated from The Royal College of Art with an MA in Painting in 2002. He has exhibited extensively throughout the UK and internationally in Italy, America and Denmark. In 2002 he won the BOC Emerging Artist Award and in 2004 he was the UK winner of the Lexmark European Art Prize. He has work in private and corporate collections that include The BOC Group, Comme des Garcons, Hiscox, Marsh Mclennan, Mario Testino collection and David Roberts Collection. This is KeenleysideĆ­s third exhibition at the gallery.