Diarmuid Kelley is a painter with an excellent reputation who shows regularly at the prestigious Offer and Waterman Gallery in Chelsea, London.
His latest show, All Cats Are Gray, ( buy catalogue) is on now and as usual features figures and still-life.
I went to see the show and am sharing some iphone photos with details of the works ( all
other images come from O. W. website). I know that Kelley's studio is very close to my house but I never had the chance to meet him, not that he needs to go around submitting paintings to competitions: all his shows are sold out !
There are a few interviews where he talks about his work online, but not many ( he defines himself as shy). One of the most notable points he has talked about for me is his strategy of stopping work on a painting as soon as he feels he is just "colouring in ": he often leaves areas of the painting untouched. I find this is most interesting when it happens in the figure rather than in the background, like in the hands of this work, Untitled ( Tessa) from 2007.
Kelley's vision is inspired by Hamershoi, Vermeer, Caravaggio. Although, as he says, there is a "loaded stillness" in the paintings, I find they paradoxically have a cinematographic quality in the way atmosphere is created, as if the model was the still element and everything else was moving around him/her.
In order to achieve the dim directional light he depicts, he has built a little self contained room in his studio, a room within the room, with a window that allows him full control of the luminosity in the setting..
As you can see from the glare in my photos, he plays with matte and glossy areas, working some times on white canvas, some others on raw linen, like in this 2013 still life, Untitled ( Beetroots).
Works on raw canvas have a more subdued light ( students please note!).
Pencil lines are an integral part of the surface, often substituting paint and delineating a careful drawing. Paints are some times diluted to the point that they drip down, while in some other areas they have a much thicker body. Marks suggest a predominant use of square brushes, particularly when defining the form of a round object.
Straight lines result from a process of simplification of the form, to a point where they almost contradict anatomy ( see the jawline of Martina, from 2012).
This piece was my favourite in the show, so lyrical !
Don't forget to earmark his page !