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Rokeby presents Simon Keenleyside's second solo exhibition at the gallery in which he continues to examine the formal and psychological possibilities of landscape.
Keenleyside's recent paintings explore places on the fringes of his Essex home; peripheral or marginal sites, familiar to the artist from his youth. Considerable parts of this backcountry is inhabited with remnants of former times; disused water towers, banks of crates and containers abandoned by local industries that surround the towns and bleak, abandoned buildings; most recently the disused Runwell Psychiatric Hospital has interested the artist.
The new paintings of containers adopt a position within the genre of abstract painting and the legacy of the grid. Square containers are built upon each other, as is often seen in marginal industrial landscapes, but as with previous work Keenleyside meticulously executes the paintings in toxic colours, resulting in a formal investigation of the physical reality of structures as well as to the illusionist optics of painting. Brand new work in the exhibition includes containers emblazoned with text. Initially the text may have found its way onto the containers as graffiti or trade names but now it enunciates sanguine lyrics and lines from poetry in hard-edged letters. Such text underlines the artists close affinity to film, music and writing but also reasserts the two dimensionality of the picture surface.
A further formal device that the artist employs in the new work is the inclusion of geometrically patterned walls, which in some instances dominate the canvas, scarcely hinting at a landscape beyond. As with the grid, the prevailing motif of Modern art, these structures are used both to explore the real and what is literally and figuratively beyond and behind that reality. And as with earlier work the new canvases resonate with the shifting spaces of personal memory, which comes in part from the artist returning to the biographical sites of his childhood.
After studying for his BA at Brighton University Simon Keenleyside completed an MA in the Painting Department of the Royal College of Art. 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.