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Press Release

Berggruen Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of twelve new paintings by American artist, Tom McKinley. This show marks McKinley’s seventh solo exhibition with the gallery and will be on view February 21 through March 24, 2018. The gallery will host a reception for the artist on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 from 5:00 to 8:00pm.

Tom McKinley’s exhibition of new paintings presents a survey of domestic architecture embedded with rich references to material culture. Hyperrealistic depictions of interior and exterior spaces propose a coalescence between natural and man-made habitats, as the quiet, contemplative scenes express a harmonious relationship between objects, architecture, and the outside world. This sense of tranquil arises from the artist’s meticulous handling of line and color, as McKinley strikes a delicate balance between geometric precision and architectural rationality combined with the organic shapes and surfaces of the natural world. What emerges from his paintings is an intimate union of art and architecture and landscape – a harmony of opposites drawn together in a single moment of stillness devoid of human interaction.

To observe one of McKinley’s paintings is to enter a narrative – one meticulously composed by what the artist describes as his “mental inventory.” This inventory is characterized by a wide-ranging scope of collectibles, visual icons, from Islamic ceramics and Greek antiques to Brancusi sculptures and Grotjahn abstractions. The paintings’ inanimate spaces express a uniquely vibrant character and sense of life derived from the artist’s acute attention to objects and their relationship to private and public surroundings. A story is written in the cultural artifacts that assume the space – both time-worn relics and contemporary pieces that convey luxurious expressions of taste. The lack of figures within the paintings shifts the focus away from human interaction, instead concentrating on the undisturbed dwellings as embodiments of material culture. His works thus propose an illusory gaze into the meditative sites of private art collections and the modern edifices in or around which they reside.

While a human presence is suggested by the nature of the residential settings, the immaculate interiors and landscaping – a pristinely folded blanket or flawlessly trimmed lawn - exudes a museum-like perfection and precision. This precision stems from both McKinley’s strict and technical approach to composition as well as the artist’s painstaking attention to form and color. By capturing spaces at various times of the day, McKinley experiments with a range of color palettes, from rich, dusky tones to sunny pastels. Properties of natural and artificial light breathe life into each space, proposing a synthesis of man-made and synthetic forces which together create a theatrical portrait of homes and their prized contents.

Despite McKinley’s penchant for architectural environments, these paintings simultaneously reveal the artist’s affinity for painting and imagining their surrounding landscapes. While the residences he paints are fictional, the artist places these dwellings within specific outdoor contexts. A striking degree of painterly realism transports the viewer to idyllic natural sceneries with sweeping views and a remoteness that suggests a degree of privacy and retreat. This sense of seclusion distills each painting into a singular moment of meditation, allowing those who encounter McKinley’s works to enter a space emblematic of human culture and its powerful connection to art objects.

Tom McKinley was born in Bay City, Michigan, and was educated in both the United States and Europe. Beginning at the Goddard Collage in Vermont, he continued his education overseas in England at the Falmouth School of Art in Falmouth, the Ravensbourne College of Art in London, and Brighton Polytechnic in Brighton. McKinley currently lives and works in the San Francisco area. 

Tom McKinley, February 21 – March 24, 2018. On view at 10 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. Images and preview are available upon request. For all inquiries, please contact the gallery by phone (415) 781-4629 or by email