By getting up close to the textures of daily experience, Keegan Monaghan has long been engaged in a pursuit of abstraction. Within his densely detailed works, shifting values of texture and scale offer methods for delivering distinct emotional tonalities as well. For this exhibition, Monaghan presents a new body of drawings for the first time. Leaving off from the larger-scale, heavily worked surfaces of his paintings, the artist locates a different relation to time through the immediacy of mark-making on paper. While his paintings involve an extended process of application and return, Monaghan’s drawings require a more instantaneous sensitivity to the image in formation at the tip of a moving pencil, and within the span of a wrist. Like memories, these works are blurred at the edges, yet they carry a charged mix of poignancy, tension, and melancholy.
Many of Monaghan’s images are captured through mental observation while walking around. In turn, although the original subjects may not be necessarily special or profound, the works become psychically and emotionally infused in a greater sense. In these moments—and as they appear in the works—small things may become enormous and vice versa, and in doing so they may switch out of a recognizability of image into one of mood. This body of drawings also marks a moment between bodies of paintings, as the two are typically made in relation; one leading into another. Strange details of machinery appear with some works, and while their function remains unclear, their parts indicate the precarity of both a larger whole and a hidden interior. Likewise, a diamond shape frames the view into the belly of a construction site and the city that stands beyond it. In others, more naturalist studies of light and shadow offer thematic counterpoints and visual inversions. Brought together, Monaghan’s works tap directly into the emotional frequencies that surround us in the day, and in time.
Keegan Monaghan (b. 1986 in Evanston, IL; lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) holds a BFA from The Cooper Union. His solo exhibitions include Threads (2020) and Incoming (2018) at James Fuentes, NY; Bowl of Food, Parker Gallery, Los Angeles (2020-21); You decide to take a walk, On Stellar Rays, NY (2016); and Total Recall, OLD ROOM, NewNY (2015). Group exhibitions include the 2019 Whitney Biennial; Eighteen Hundred Showers, Simone Subal Gallery, NY (2017); I Pledge Allegiance, On Stellar Rays, NY (2016); CCCC: Ceramics Club Cash and Carry, White Columns, NY (2015); and Material Stackers, OLD ROOM, NY (2015). His work in included in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
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