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WHITNEY MCVEIGH | INVESTING IN ART
As a practicing artist in painting, installation and film, Whitney McVeigh is working under an interdisciplinary area of research into our human fabric. She is concerned with collective identity, linking our common threads through land, our clothes, our borders, our conflicts and our philosophies.
 
Her work considers the human being as vessel and carrier of stories and memories. Through found material, site-specific projects and her own gestural painting, McVeigh’s entire output centers on the layering of time and memory. She is an accredited Fellow at the London College of Fashion for her research into Human Fabric and is a hugely respected intellect in this field.
Whitney McVeigh was born in New York in 1968 and moved to the UK in 1976 where she studied at Edinburgh College of Art. Best known for her installations and inky-figurative works on paper, she he has exhibited widely using travel and her own memories as her primary muses.

Her work focuses on the exploration of the physical and psychological elements of the human condition and she has travelled extensively to carry out her practice with artist-residencies in India, Mexico, Beijing and South Africa. In 2009 she employed the use of video during a trip to Syria to create Sight of Memory and in 2012 she visited Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia to write and direct two films about artists for television.

The artist operates through a combination of intention and accident and her work has an immediacy which celebrates the potential of the medium to suggest, rather than define, possible readings. When asked about the theme of memory and the passage of time in her work and if she thought it spoke to people about their own memories, McVeigh answered; “One hopes that a dialogue will take place and that the [work] will trigger an association. As an artist it’s about communicating and accessing something but it depends on what the viewers bring of themselves”. Indeed this is where McVeigh’s work is so powerful, because it demands an intellectual exchange between artwork and viewer, one that is authentic and which denies the potential of art to be superficially decorative or kitsch.
Whitney McVeigh

Head Series (Y) , 2007

49(w) x 60(h) cm
19.49(w) x 23.62(h) inches
Screenprint
Edition of 50
PRICE (INCL. VAT)
£ 550.00
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McVeigh’s authenticity is alive in her character as much as in her approach. Her lithe and energetic person whirls about as she makes her art, splashing and dashing her signature black ink onto paper as she explains that there's a lot of feeling involved in the physical making of the work, “it’s gestural abstraction with no discernible end or beginning, it’s all-consuming and immediate”. She goes on to explain that in all of her work, what is produced is a direct reflection of her state of mind in any given moment, and that nothing is predetermined. The journey is an exploration of psyche as she deals with autobiographical aspects of displacement, frailty and spiritual renewal as well as memory.

We wonder with each new project what her current state of mind is, and what it is that she’s been through, because some of the heads in her ongoing ‘Heads’ series have perplexing expressions, traced in black acrylic with an anguish reminiscent of Francis Bacon (a British figurative painter known for his bold, grotesque, emotionally charged, raw imagery). We may never fully know her experiences, but that is really the point, because her own expressions make way for very open interpretations. What is clear however is that she is in constant communication with her materials so that they become authentic, live recordings of her working mind, and the screenprint Head Series (Yellow), which was created alongside Eyestorm in 2007, offers a vivid example of this core approach with its up-front posture and distinct colours that blend and merge together, responsive to the space each one contains in isolation but also in combination with others. One of her ‘Heads’ series was recognised as image of the day in the Times newspaper in March 2008 and that same year McVeigh was featured in an article on collecting art in the Financial Times newspaper.

McVeigh is an established female artist working in the realm of theory and concept. She has been celebrated for her intellectual, interdisciplinary approach to making art for almost two decades and in 2009, two years after the first Eyestorm screenprint was released, McVeigh really took the art world by storm. She was nominated for the Sovereign European Art Prize, was featured in a documentary for BBC Four’s ‘Where is Modern Art Now’ alongside Grayson Perry CBE, and her worldwide gallery representation was cemented as far afield as New York, Malaysia and Beijing. Many projects and solo shows followed with a feature film, Birth: the Origins at the End of Life’, released in 2016 at London’s Royal Academy of Arts and she also participated in the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013, an incredibly prestigious coup which gives her profile significant importance.
Whitney McVeigh

Map of Time , 2014

74(w) x 95(h) cm
29.33(w) x 37.40(h) inches
Screenprint on Somerset 410gsm paper with hand torn edge
Edition of 50
PRICE (INCL. VAT)
£ 700.00
Only 2 left at this price
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In the midst of these successive projects, Eyestorm were very fortunate to be able to release the limited edition screenprint Map of Time with McVeigh, in 2014, seven years after the first collaboration. Working with an artist with such a strong track-record in the art world is always an exciting opportunity and the print was immediately well-received as it entered into private collections all over the world. The signature use of black that makes up the image is essential to McVeigh’s style as there is no reduction process; everything is there in its force by the very nature of the colour being absorbent of all other colours. While on a residency in China, McVeigh had noticed the similarities between the piece she was making at the time and the process of calligraphy, not only due to its monochrome nature, but also the closeness of the process, and those same influences are strong in Map of Time. The black ink, rich and tactile in its material presence, is coaxed into yielding interpretations that refuse to settle making it an alluring and mesmerizing piece, occupied with tension and dynamic energy.

As we increasingly struggle to deal with a constant flood of information in the 21st century, there are continuous attempts to reconstruct memories and realities in art as well as to hold on to concepts and tangible objects. Whitney McVeigh succeeds best at engaging others with their own senses of human imprint whilst working out her own in the background. It’s at the juncture where her own artistic input gives over to open interpretation where she’s fully accredited with being a vehicle for something bigger than her own effort and we must agree with curator and cultural historian, Gus Hasley-Hayford, when he notes “she has taken us closer to something else, something unknown, to something that communes with the unknowable - and there she has found something of us” .
 
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